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  • Writer's pictureJohn Townsend

Finalists decided but order is anyone’s guess

The top five is decided but the finishing order may not be known until 5pm on the final afternoon of round 20.

Eleven wins are likely to be needed to reach finals this season.

A winless West Coast season would lift the qualifying mark to 10 while the plight of a Perth team that can beat the Eagles but virtually no one else is likely to add another rung to the ladder.

That means that sixth-placed West Perth are effectively three matches out of fifth place with seven to play.

It is not mathematically impossible for them to play finals, just as it is not mathematically impossible for me to swim to Rottnest, but even the club decision to hand the coaching reins to former captain Jason Salecic – for next season not the end of this – may not be enough to stir the Falcons from their premiership hangover.

Swan Districts are even further back: they are three games and considerable percentage from the top half of the ladder.

They would have to win every game by 10 goals to make up a differential of nearly 400 points to claim a place.

I’ve got more chance of dog-paddling to Rotto.

So how are the contenders placed?

Claremont (first) have just had a customary percentage booster against West Coast and called on their hard edge to survive a thriller against a strong candidate in Subiaco.

Away games to finals-bound East Perth and Peel will provide stern tests but get through them and the pacy Tigers should secure the minor premiership and a straight road to their third grand final in four seasons. Prediction: minor premier.

East Perth president Bronte Howson said the Royals (second) would spend one season in the bottom third of the ladder after ending their alignment with West Coast, one season in the middle third and then reach the top three and challenge for a flag in the third year.

The COVID hiatus disrupted that timing but the Royals have used the most potent attack in the league to revive Howson’s prediction.

They have a tough run in the next month but two wins in that period and a strong finish could deliver a second chance in the finals. Prediction: fourth.

Peel (third) will have nine Dockers qualified for finals by Saturday night and are likely to add up to seven more in the next few weeks.

The Thunder’s best has been outstanding this season but their big unknown is how they will respond should Fremantle be unable to make AFL finals.

The WAFL rules allow them open selection slather while Fremantle are alive but only 12 Dockers if the AFL team is out of action.

Tough games against aspiring top three teams in the next three rounds will decide whether they will get a second chance in September. They should. Prediction: third.

Subiaco (fourth) were on top of the ladder two weeks ago until a bye and seven-point loss saw them plummet to fourth. They are a better team than that.

Three potent big forwards, a disciplined midfield, balanced and experienced defence and the influence of ruckman Zac Clarke spell danger for every opponent.

And the presence of eight multiple premiership players, including the returning Jordan Lockyer after a year-long recovery from knee surgery, indicate that the Lions know what is takes to succeed at the pointy end of the season. Prediction: second.

East Fremantle (fifth) have just come off a record win over West Coast but other teams have thrashed the Eagles this season and followed their gluttony with indifferent performances.

Victory this week would extinguish West Perth’s minute mathematical prospect of reaching finals but is no certainty for a Sharks outfit that has added 84 percentage points from two West Coast slaughters.

Still, they are the only club to beat both Claremont and Subiaco this season, their forward line looms dangerously and captain Matthew Jupp is one of the most driven individuals in WA football. Prediction (fifth).



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