Fi­nals-like game ex­pected as Roy­als, Dogs head down south

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - Mitchell Wood­cock Wil­lie Ri­oli could re­turn to East Perth’s line-up

WITH fi­nals fast ap­proach­ing East Perth and South Fre­man­tle are head­ing down the high­way in search of a valu­able four points.

The two sides meet to­mor­row at Sir Ste­wart Bovell Park which sees the six-placed Roy­als need­ing a win to keep in touch with the top-five.

South Fre­man­tle are in sec­ond place, just a game clear of Peel Thun­der who are one of the in-form teams of the com­pe­ti­tion.

This gives both sides added in­cen­tive to win this week­end, as fi­nals spots and dou­ble chances be­come all the talk of the WAFL.

The last time the two sides met it was the Roy­als who won in a one­point thriller at Fre­man­tle Com­mu­nity Bank Oval, when West Coast Ea­gles-listed for­ward Tom Lamb booted three goals and de­fender Jack­son Nel­son put on a best-on-ground per­for­mance.

Bus­sel­ton prod­uct Ash­ton Hams racked up 27 dis­pos­als for the Bull­dogs in their tight loss.

South Fre­man­tle coach Todd Curley said he be­lieved his side had played well for most of the game.

“We were good for three-and-a-half quar­ters but the last 15 min­utes re­ally cost us,” he said. “It is an im­por­tant game for us.” East Perth’s squad will be de­cided de­pend­ing on who is se­lected for the West Coast Ea­gles’ match against Colling­wood on Sun­day.

Curley said he did not ex­pect the Roy­als to make a “huge amount” of changes, af­ter the Ea­gles won the West­ern Derby against the Fre­man­tle Dock­ers.

“We will just play who­ever is out there on the day,” he said.

“It is more about con­cen­trat­ing on our game.”

Curley praised the sea­son of young mid­fielder Timothy Kelly, who is fast

be­com­ing one of the WAFL’s best.

The 24-year-old is av­er­ag­ing more than 27 dis­pos­als a game this sea­son and Curley ex­pects him to get some close at­ten­tion be­cause of his solid form.

“He has been get­ting the close at­ten­tion for the past three to four weeks re­ally,” he said.

“He has still been able to con­trib­ute.

“He is very self­less as well and helps his team­mates even when it is not go­ing his way.

“I am con­fi­dent he will have an im­pact on the game.”

Curley said the Bull­dogs’ depth in the mid­field meant that even if Kelly had lit­tle im­pact, they were able to win the mid­field bat­tle.

East Perth coach Luke Web­ster said the play­ers were ex­cited to head down south to play a game.

“We had a good chat about it the other night,” he said.

“There is a gen­eral ex­cite­ment to play in the re­gion. It is some­thing dif­fer­ent for our play­ers.

“We have five or six guys from the re­gion, so they are ex­cited to play in front of their fam­ily and friends.”

Web­ster said the Bull­dogs were a “qual­ity side” and his team would have to be on their game if they were to get the four points.

“We had a good bat­tle against them last time,” he said.

Web­ster said ex­cit­ing West Coast for­ward Wil­lie Ri­oli would be in con­tention to play on Satur­day, hav­ing re­cov­ered from in­jury.

“He still has to get through the main train­ing, which we are sure he will and then it is just about de­cid­ing what is best for Wil­lie,” he said.

Web­ster said his coach­ing staff would put time into try­ing to limit the ef­fec­tive­ness of the Bull­dogs’ mid­field.

“There are a num­ber of blokes you can look at (tag­ging),” he said.

“But we will have to back in our own group.”

Web­ster ad­mit­ted it was “a lit­tle dif­fer­ent” when it came to se­lec­tion be­cause of the align­ment with West Coast, but he had an idea of who would play al­ready.

“I get an in­di­ca­tion early in the week,” he said.

Web­ster said the next few weeks were big for East Perth as they looked to make the fi­nals.

“The type of foot­ball we play when we are on will hold us in good stead,” he

Pic­ture: Danella Be­vis

West Coast Ea­gles for­ward Tom Lamb booted three goals for East Perth in their last game against South Fre­man­tle.

Pic­ture: Daniel Wilkins

South Fre­man­tle’s Timothy Kelly has been one of the stars of this year’s com­pe­ti­tion.

Pic­ture: Justin Ben­son-Cooper

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