Round 13 Preview v West Perth

Saturday, June 17, 2017 - 2:35 AM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle heads to a ground it has won five of its last six visits to and 16 of 25 overall on Saturday when the Bulldogs take on West Perth at HBF Arena needing to win to retain second position on the WAFL ladder.

The Falcons and Bulldogs come into the contest both having recorded seven victories so far this season with West Perth having a game in hand while South Fremantle currently sits ahead with a far superior percentage.

West Perth also comes into the game on the back of having won six of its last seven games while South Fremantle has lost three of its past four.

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The Falcons are looking to continue the momentum they have been building ever since a horror loss to the Bulldogs back in Round 4 while South Fremantle is now just looking to cling to second spot after locking horns with Subiaco over top spot as recently as Round 9.

That all sets up a potentially season-defining contest for both clubs at HBF Arena on Saturday.

South Fremantle can position itself clear in second spot at 8-4 with a strong percentage with a win. But a loss for the Bulldogs would leave them at 7-5 and right back in the pack fighting for a spot in the top five.

West Perth, meanwhile, will sit a game clear in second position with a victory at 8-3 and having played a game fewer than South Fremantle who it would have just overtaken and the top-of-the-table Subiaco. A loss and the Falcons are 7-4 and back fighting for a top five spot too.

The Falcons' season certainly looked in trouble after a 103-point loss to South Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval back in Round 4, but they couldn’t have been more impressive since.

Their only slip up was on WA Day losing to East Perth but they have won their other six matches since including by eight points over Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval last Sunday.

South Fremantle might have dominated East Fremantle on WA Day to win by 145 points, but either side of that the Bulldogs had lost to Subiaco and East Perth leading into the state game break, and then to Peel by a goal after a strong comeback last Saturday at home.

Not only did South Fremantle beat West Perth by 103 points earlier this season, but also won all three meetings in 2016 over the Falcons by 52 points in the preliminary final at Fremantle Community Bank Oval, by 35 points in Round 14 at HBF Arena and 35 points in Round 1 at home.

Historically South Fremantle has a good record at HBF Arena winning 16 of its 25 visits to the Joondalup venue including five of the last six.

South Fremantle coach Todd Curley knows that no matter what has happened in the past, Saturday will be a tough challenge.

"If we roll up and produce what we did with our effort and intensity in the first half this week then we’ll lose again. We’ll work hard and there’s some areas we can get better," Curley said.

"The biggest one for us that let us down was effort and intent. That’s really got nothing to do with form, that’s about how you prepare. We think we’ll get better, historically we’ve been pretty good at backing up but not this week."

Shaun Bewick couldn’t have possibly responded any better to his demotion to the reserves over the past fortnight for South Fremantle.

That included 41 possessions and five goals last Saturday against Peel Thunder as he looks to return to the league side on Saturday to take on his former team whom he just happened to celebrate his 100th WAFL match against back in Round 4.

Brendan Verrier has also been in strong reserves form with 36 possessions last week to join Bewick in being added to the squad this week to take on West Perth along with Kyle Russell. He had 19 disposals and a goal last week in the reserves.

Ashton Hams will also return for South Fremantle having not played last Saturday due to concerns of him coming up on a five-day break. Jarrod Garlett is the only out of the South Fremantle side at this stage.

West Perth is coming off a strong win over Swan Districts last Sunday and as a result there's little reason to change the side coming into the clash with South Fremantle.

Nathan Alexandre, Conal Lynch and Aidan Lynch are all added to the squad for Saturday after showing good reserves form.

On Sunday against Swans in the reserves, Alexandre had 21 possessions and six marks while Conal Lynch had 25 disposals, nine marks and seven tackles, and Aidan Lynch 27 touches and five inside-50 entries.

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