Finals-like game expected as Royals, Dogs head down south
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
West Coast Eagles forward Tom Lamb booted three goals for East Perth in their last game against South Fremantle.
South Fremantle’s Timothy Kelly has been one of the stars of this year’s competition.