WEST Perth and Swan Districts more often than not produce fascinating contests with one another and this Sunday with their seasons on the line it should prove no different.
West Perth and Swan Districts will lock horns in the elimination final on Sunday at Joondalup's Provident Financial Oval with the winner to stay alive and advance to next week's first semi-final against either South Fremantle or Claremont.
The season will be over for the loser and it will be a disappointing early finals exit that neither of them will be keen to experience.
West Perth finished the home and away season in fourth position with a 12-8 record to earn the rights to hosting Sunday's elimination final, but they fell a game and percentage short of Claremont in third position and a finals double chance.
Swan Districts finished up with a 10-8 record for the 2021 season to be in fifth position two games behind West Perth but two games ahead of the sixth placed East Fremantle.
This is a seventh consecutive finals appearance for West Perth since missing out on making it as reigning premiers in 2014 following their flag success of 2013.
Over the past six years, West Perth reached Grand Finals in 2015 and 2018 before losing heavily to Subiaco while going down to South Fremantle in the preliminary final in 2020, to West Coast in the elimination final of 2019, Peel Thunder in 2016 first semi-final and Swan Districts in the 2017 elimination final.
This Falcons team does appear primed to make a serious run at the premiership with a forward-line spearheaded by Bernie Naylor Medallist Tyler Keitel with support from Keegan Knott, Rudy Riddoch, Mitch Antonio and Sasha Kernutt.
Their midfield remains remarkably well led by Aaron Black and Shane Nelson with support from Trent Manzone, Tom Boyes, Tristan Hobley and Mitch Peirce.
Their defence is then tremendously anchored by Mark Hamilton and Noah Pegoraro with Dean Munns, Zac Guadagnin, Blake Wilhelm and Tyson Moulton settling back there nicely.
Swan Districts is taking part in a finals series for the first time since 2017 where they defeated West Perth in an elimination final before losing by 80 points to South Fremantle in the first semi-final.
This will be the first final coached by Adam Pickering who has been in charge at Swan Districts since 2018 and while the black-and-whites enter from fifth position, they do have enough structure and depth of talent to be confident of having a genuine impact.
Kicking a winning score is going to be the biggest challenge for Swan Districts with them coming into the finals ranked just seventh for points scored at 73.7 a game, but should they find a way to do that, their midfield and back-line looks capable of giving them a real chance.
The Swans back-line appears their great strength headed up by veterans Tony Notte and Alex Howard with support from Brandon Erceg, Chris Jones, Anthony Stephens and Jackson Beck.
Swan Districts will dearly continue to miss star ruckman Corey Gault as he battles post concussion issues, but if Matthew Germs can hold his own in the ruck, Swans have a good midfield led by Frank Anderson, Sam Fisher, Jesse Turner and Josh Cipro.
The two teams met twice during the home and away season with West Perth winning both contests by nine points at home in Round 6 and then by 46 points in Round 11 at Steel Blue Oval.
Their last final match up was the 2017 elimination final when Swan Districts won by 15 points at Steel Blue Oval. They also won the 2009 first semi-final and 2008 preliminary final, the latter of which was at Joondalup.
Swan Districts also beat West Perth in the first semi finals of 1943 and 1985 with the Falcons' only win in finals over Swans coming in the second semi-final of 1975.
West Perth comes into the game having beaten Perth last week and from that team, Sam Rotham comes into replace key defender Noah Pegoraro.
Matthew Lloyd, Tom Medhat, Kris Shannon and ruckman Ben Delaporte are the other four players added to the West Perth extended squad.
Swan Districts has a host of key players to return that didn’t play in last week's loss to Claremont and Lewis Jetta, Nathan Ireland, Jiah Reidy, Alex Howard, Will Collins, Warrick Wilson, Frank Anderson and Sam Fisher all come in as inclusions to the Swans' extended squad.
At this stage, the only outs from the team last week are Callum Garcia, Jack O'Sullivan, Jake Dugan and Jacob Sideris.
All three elimination finals will be taking place on Sunday at Provident Financial Oval starting at 9.30am with the colts contest between East Fremantle and West Perth.
The winner will face the loser of the qualifying final between Claremont and East Perth in a first semi-final next week while the season will be over for the loser.
Then in the reserves qualifying final at 12pm, it will be Subiaco up against West Perth with the Falcons getting home ground advantage despite being the lower ranked team.
The winner will move into a semi-final against either Swan Districts or Perth with no next week for the loser.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – FINALS SERIES
WEST PERTH (12-6, 4th) v SWAN DISTRICTS (10-8, 5th) – PROVIDENT FINANCIAL OVAL, SUNDAY 2.40PM
Live scores, stats
TV: Channel 7
Radio: 91.3 SportFM
SUBIACO (9-7, 4th) v WEST PERTH (9-7, 5th) – PROVIDENT FINANCIAL OVAL, SUNDAY 12.00PM
Live scores, stats
EAST FREMANTLE (9-7, 4th) v WEST PERTH (8-8, 5th) – PROVIDENT FINANCIAL OVAL, SUNDAY 9.30AM
Live scores, stats