Falcons can set up premiership push on Saturday
Victory in the match of the day on Saturday would enable West Perth to achieve something that has been beyond every team so far this season.
And it could set them up for their first premiership in nearly a decade.
The Falcons are on top of the ladder after surviving a gruelling derby last Monday that produced their sixth consecutive win.
But in a clear indication of how competitive the league has been this year, no team has been able to hold on to top spot for more than one round.
Peel, South Fremantle, Claremont, East Fremantle and West Perth all rose and fell in the first five weeks.
And while the latter two have waxed at No.1 in the past month on the back of percentage-boosting encounters with a feeble West Coast, West Perth could emerge from their imminent clash at the WACA Ground with a two-game buffer over the other candidates.
Or there could be three teams on six wins; four teams on five wins or three teams on four wins after this weekend. No matter what happens on Saturday, West Perth’s robust back-line, dynamic midfield and versatile attacking division make them the team to beat this season.
The return of premiership captain and coach Darren Harris, who has plenty of fire in his belly after his dramatic exit at Claremont, provides an extra dimension to their motivation.
Harris will confront Bill Monaghan on Saturday, the senior Shark another West Perth premiership coach who happened to be sacked by the Falcons after taking them to the 2018 grand final.
Who would be a coach when job-saving success is measured in such narrow fashion?
One coach doing it tough is East Perth’s Jeremy Barnard who has been dealt two cruel blows as he attempts to rebuild his team’s fortunes.
The player he could least afford to lose was high-marking forward Sebit Kuek whose shift to Fremantle, or more likely Peel, for the rest of the season will leave the Royals devoid of targets and, probably, out of the running to play finals.
And the club’s best player in captain Jackson Ramsay will be out of action for a period after ripping a calf before half-time against West Perth. East Perth are not a great team – they are short of class, have moderate skills, a brittle system and lack players capable of making sound decisions under pressure.
Losing a key forward and a rare A grader in just over a week have exposed the Royals yet they were in the game against the premiership favourites until the dying stages when the home team’s poise and ability to avoid dumb mistakes proved the vital difference.
It might be a Hail Mary but getting Elijah Taylor back from Calingiri might have to be part of the Royals revival.
Seven rounds in and it looks like seven teams are in the hunt for finals.
The evenness of the competition means that percentage is likely to be critical this season with the teams that managed to plunder West Coast when they were at their lowest ebb last month getting more tickets in the finals lottery.
Wednesday hero: Gnowangerup farmer Timm House is rapidly becoming Claremont’s most important player, as he demonstrated with his three-goal performance against Perth. The Tigers lack height which makes House a critical fixture in attack where he draws the ball and creates scoring opportunities. Two of them on Saturday – a slick over-the-shoulder handball to set up Max Spyvee’s first goal of the second half and then a strong mark and long bomb from outside 50 late in the last term – were vital contributions
IMAGE: Belinda Russell/ West Perth FC