IT IS International Round of the WAFL this Saturday with four games across Perth seeing West Perth trying to keep touch with the top-four, and East Perth and East Fremantle looking to continue to push for Swan Districts' second spot.
International Round will be highlighted by a massive day of celebration at Arena Joondalup with West Perth taking on Subiaco with East Fremantle also hosting South Fremantle, Claremont facing Peel at Claremont Oval and East Perth taking on Perth at Leederville's Medibank Stadium.
The second-placed Swan Districts has the Round 21 bye.
EAST FREMANTLE (11-5, 3rd) v SOUTH FREMANTLE (5-12, 7th) – EAST FREMANTLE OVAL, SATURDAY 2.10PM
The final Fremantle derby of 2012 is set to be a beauty with East Fremantle needing to win to further secure its spot in the top-four and to move back into second position, but the youthful South Fremantle has nothing to lose and has found some encouraging form.
East Fremantle has already won the two derbies earlier this season by 85 and eight points respectively, but the pressure is on the Sharks to gain a crucial four points while the Bulldogs are now in better form than they were in those two earlier clashes.
The Sharks remain in third position on the ladder and will move ahead of Swan Districts back into second spot with a win over the Bulldogs on Saturday, but a loss still leaves them slightly vulnerable to fifth-placed West Perth and will make it extra tough to end up finishing in the top-two to earn a crucial double chance.
East Fremantle is coming off the bye last week following a 92-point loss to Claremont that saw everything that could go wrong for the Sharks go bad including injuries and of course the final result that not only cost four points, but also plenty of crucial percentage.
However, prior to that the Sharks had been outstanding beating Swan Districts by 63 points, East Perth by 64, Perth by 19 and West Perth by 52 so coach Steve Malaxos will be hoping his team quickly gets back to that sort of form.
It has been a tough year for South Fremantle with even more retirements and injuries to experienced campaigners loaded on top of the long list of stars who either retired or were drafted into the AFL following the end of 2011.
That was a major reason why the Bulldogs lost eight games during the middle of the season, but the youthful line-up has found some good form with wins over Subiaco and Perth the last two weeks and now will be setting themselves to upset the Sharks.
Already with the first two derbies of the year being played over ANZAC Day weekend and of course on WA Day, the third Fremantle derby of each season will now be called the Uittenbroek-Ciccotosto Cup starting this Saturday at East Fremantle Oval.
The cup is named in honour of outgoing South Fremantle CEO Brian Ciccotosto, who is a 1970 premiership player and Simpson Medallist before taking over as CEO of the Bulldogs in 1989 where he remained ever since.
Then there is East Fremantle's Bob Uittenbroek who is an East Fremantle and WA Football life member having been involved with both for over 40 years as an employee and volunteer. His career was highlighted by a 32-year reign as General Manager of East Fremantle from 1973-2005.
East Fremantle loses four important players from the side that was thumped by Claremont a fortnight ago with Russell Gabriel, Richard Hadley and Max Duffy all out after injuries suffered against the Tigers.
West Coast defender Jacob Brennan is also out but there are some important inclusions led by key forwards Jack Perham and Justin Monaco, and Fremantle's Cameron Sutcliffe who has averaged over 20 possessions and kicked six goals in his eight matches for the Sharks this season.
South Fremantle has nothing to lose heading to Shark Park with a young side that has done well to win the last two games. Last week's debutant Sam Lowrie goes out after going down injured in the win over Perth, but former dual East Fremantle fairest and best winner Andrew McCarrey returns.
He kicked seven goals on WA Day and returns after a back complaint with Jason Maskos, Jordan Wilson-King and Matthew Olivieri all pushing for a spot in the Bulldogs' side.
WEST PERTH (8-1-7, 5th) v SUBIACO (6-10, 6th) – ARENA JOONDALUP, SATURDAY 2.10PM
West Perth begins a last month of the season that will determine the Falcons' finals hopes but they virtually need to win all four of their remaining games so that must start against Subiaco at Arena Joondalup.
West Perth currently sits two games behind fourth-placed East Perth and two and-a-half back from third-placed East Fremantle, but with games against both the Royals and Sharks in the run home, the Falcons remain a chance to take part in finals action.
However, that looks near impossible without a win against the Lions on Saturday. West Perth is coming off a remarkable two weeks prior to the bye with a 100-point victory over Peel at Bendigo Bank Stadium on the back of a massive 119-point defeat to Claremont at Arena Joondalup.
Subiaco started the 2012 season with four straight wins, but has won just twice since then and prior to last week's bye had lost three straight to Swan Districts, South Fremantle and Peel to fall out of the race for finals action.
West Perth has embraced International Round fully and will put on a terrific day at Arena Joondalup as a result.
The West Perth District, especially the Joondalup area, has a rapidly growing population largely made up of the fastest growing migrant and multicultural demographic in the state. As a result, the Falcons are being proactive to attract these migrants to West Perth and WAFL football.
The day at Arena Joondalup will include a British beer tent, international food stalls, free footy skills clinics at half-time for kids not born in Australia conducted by West Perth reserves players, free footy tickets for local school kids and bouncy castles, face painting, super slide, show bags and much more.
West Perth is coming off a strong 99-point victory over Peel prior to the bye last week and from that team loses Jordan Jones, but regains state defender Dan Hunt.
Matt Guadagnin, Michael Pettigrew and Dion Fleay don't return from injury just yet, but Laine Rasmussen is pushing for a return as is a trio of potential debutants – Nick Rodda, Matthew Johnson and James Batterham.
Subiaco will be hoping that the week off with a bye has helped it regroup from three straight losses. They will certainly miss 103-gamer Kane Bloxsidge with Rhett Kerr leading the list of possible inclusions along with Joel Ashman, Daniel Leishman and Dominic Sheed.
EAST PERTH (10-1-5, 4th) v PERTH (5-12, 8th) – MEDIBANK STADIUM, SATURDAY 2.10PM
East Perth and Perth meet for the second time in just three weeks with the Royals needing to win to further strengthen their spot in the top-four and the Demons looking for four points to escape the prospects of another wooden spoon.
East Perth and Perth played just two weeks ago with the Royals winning at Brownes Stadium by 37 points. East Perth had the bye last week following that win, so won't have to try too hard to remember what worked in that clash against the Demons.
Currently sitting in fourth position half a game behind East Fremantle and a game and-a-half back from Swan Districts, a win will maintain hopes of a top-two finish for East Perth while a loss could see them just one game ahead of fifth-placed West Perth if the Falcons beat Subiaco.
Perth has now lost its last two games to East Perth and South Fremantle to slip to eighth position on the ladder with a 5-12 record.
While their percentage should prevent them from finishing with the wooden spoon, a win against the Royals would guarantee just about that the Demons move clear of any prospect of slipping behind Peel to end up with the wooden spoon.
East Perth does lose two stars from its team that beat Perth a fortnight ago prior to last week's bye, but has some handy replacements to pick from including Dean Cadwallader, Boston Williamson, Joe Boys, Rowan Brookes and Tyson Rudd.
Josh Smith and co-captain Michael Swan will be sorely missed, though, and the pair have combined for 67 of East Perth's 228 goals this season.
Perth loses defender Chris Billings to suspension after last Sunday's loss to South Fremantle with Christian Eyres, Matthew Moody, Matthew Hunt and Ben Fraser pushing to return to the league side to face the Royals.
CLAREMONT (12-4, 1st) v PEEL THUNDER (4-13, 9th) – CLAREMONT OVAL, SATURDAY 2.10PM
It's top against bottom at Claremont Oval on Saturday when Claremont takes on Peel, but the Thunder don't have to have long memories to try and recall last time they played at Tigerland.
Peel has won just four games this season but all have come away from Mandurah and without question the most impressive performance of all those was in Round 11 when the Thunder beat Claremont by 14 points at Claremont Oval.
That was one of Peel's three wins only at Claremont Oval in 21 attempts, but that day the Thunder played an outstanding contested, one-on-one and physical brand of football that shut down Claremont's running game.
Certainly Claremont is now in better form since then having won seven straight games (including two in the Foxtel Cup) to now all but be assured of a third straight minor premiership, but Peel will be looking to cause another upset.
The Thunder have been terribly disappointing the last two weeks as well with a 100-point loss to West Perth and 99-point defeat at the hands of Swan Districts, so will be determined to rebound.
It won't be easy, though, by any means with Claremont's form of late seeing the Tigers firm as premiership favourites as they have completely dominated their opposition highlighted by wins by 97, 119 and 92 points against Swan Districts, West Perth and East Fremantle.
Claremont deserves to come in as heavy favourites following three massive WAFL wins and two impressive Foxtel Cup victories over the past five weeks, but the Tigers do have some big outs from the side that beat East Fremantle by 92 points a fortnight ago.
Jake Murphy and Trinity Handley are out injured, Luke Blackwell suspended and Fremantle's Alex Silvagni and West Coast's Tom Swift also go out of the line-up.
However, depth is Claremont's great strength and as a result has Thomas Taylor, Alistair Gillespie, Brandon Franz, Keifer Yu, Alroy Gilligan and Tom Willett all pushing for a spot before finals.
Captain Andrew Browne also looks set to play his first league game of the season after impressive performances in the reserves and Foxtel Cup over the past five weeks.
Peel will welcome back small forward Eddie Dann, who has had a good first season kicking 14 goals from his 15 games and averaging 13.5 possessions.
James Bristow, Devin McFarlane, Ryan Herring and Aden Field are also pushing for a spot in the Peel team with Rhett Mason, Scott Ugle and Liam McKenna going out.