EAST Fremantle has the chance to move clear on top of the WAFL ladder over the next fortnight and captain Mark McGough could very well be in career-best form as he leads the Sharks from the front.
East Fremantle is now in the middle of a three-week stretch that could have a big impact on its hopes of a top-two finish come the end of the season.
After thumping East Perth last week at home, the Sharks moved into second place on the ladder and now plays the third-placed team Swan Districts this Saturday at Steel Blue Oval and then top of the table Claremont at Claremont Oval before a Round 20 bye.
McGough knows that it's a big three weeks for the Sharks and was obviously happy with the 64-point win over East Perth, but knows they can't look past Swans this Saturday.
"They beat us at home last time we played by six or seven goals so we know that they are a very good team and have some really good players. All we can do is keep on bringing the effort that we brought this week, and if we do that at least we will be in with a show," McGough said.
"To be honest, we can only afford to focus on next week and Swan Districts. Where that ends up putting us come the end of the year then it will take care of itself. Our goal is to finish top-two and that's what we hope to do but we can only focus on Swans this week and then Claremont next week. If we look too far ahead, then we could slip up and we don’t want that."
While East Fremantle does have good youngsters and AFL contingent, it is the core group of experienced players leading the way towards a charge at the premiership this year.
Along with McGough, the likes of Luke Weller, Rob Young, Richard Hadley, Rory O'Brien, Brock O'Brien and Steven Dodd are all leading by example and without question are hungry to bring some success back to East Fremantle together.
McGough certainly feels that as well and that team success is what he craves, but he is the midst of perhaps the most consistent season of his career.
While he played outstanding VFL football while with Collingwood and St Kilda, some strong AFL games at both clubs and has been tremendous since coming to East Fremantle in 2010, his form in 2012 has been simply outstanding averaging 26 possessions a game.
"You play footy to be successful and to achieve that success with your mates. You enjoy your footy more when you are winning and when you all get along with each other. The club has got a really good culture and as leaders of the playing group, the senior players want to drive that culture and hopefully if we do our jobs right we can be successful now and into the future," McGough said.
"Being injury-free this year definitely helps and my fitness levels are better than they have been the previous two years. When you first come over you have to adjust to the different style of footy so it does take some time, but I'm now enjoying footy as much as I ever have.
"Winning helps that and we are 10-4 now and to play with good players in the midfield like Koby, Rory and Hads is a lot of fun, and makes my job a lot easier."
McGough puts last Saturday's thumping win over East Perth down to a strong four-quarter effort with every one of the 22 making a big contribution.
"The effort right throughout the four quarters was sensational from the boys. We focused on our defensive side and winning 50-50 contests, and I think the boys did that to a man and that was really pleasing," he said.
"A four-quarter effort was something we were aiming for and we know that East Perth is a very strong and proud team who keep coming at you. We knew we had to be on our game the entire time and that we would pay for any sort of slip up, and we managed to avoid that all day."
East Fremantle's midfield has a good blend at the moment of seasoned, hard bodied players like McGough, Hadley, Rory O'Brien and Koby Stevens and then the runners like Bradd Dalziell, Sean Henson and Mitch Boyle. The skipper is certainly enjoying the mix in there.
"Playing with Rory and Hads in the midfield, who have bigger bodies, is good and then we have some exciting young guys like Sean Henson and Mitch Boyle and had Bradd Dalziell come back as well," he said.
"It's always good to have Bradd come back because he's such a team-oriented guy and tries his guts out for us. It was pleasing for him to perform well in his return game and for us as well to have him, and we've still got Koby Stevens who we might get back at some point as well."
The Sharks' defence could be undervalued outside the club, but with Weller, Dodd, Andrew Stephen, Tom Howlett and some youngsters providing run, it could well be the best in the competition.
"Doddy has been really consistent all season, Tommy Howlett has had a great year in his first season playing down back and 'Duck' on Smith, who is probably the best centre half-forward in the competition, was great last week," he said.
"Even Andrew Stephen, Jayden Schofield, Kieran King and James Bayliss were all very good for us in the back-line."
East Fremantle's forward-line is continuing to be potent as well and at the moment with Jack Perham, Russell Gabriel, Brock O'Brien, Max Duffy, Adam Waight and Brad Dick regulars down there, it's proving hard for Leith Teakle, Sam Menegola and Justin Monaco to even break into the side.
"We do have a lot of options and we know that we have good players up there who will kick goals, but we want them to have their first priority being defensive pressure," McGough said.
"Brad Dick has come in and he's great at that, and Max and Brock have really lifted in that area and that's why Adam Waight has been playing too. His defensive pressure and hardness at the contest is great.
"The big guys down there too have been good. Jack is my housemate and was a bit crook this week so we can make an excuse for his quiet day, but Russell Gabriel is really starting to step up and create a contest for the rest of the guys to crumb or at least lock the ball in."