Friday, June 8, 2018 - 8:42 PM by Chris Pike

WEST Perth heads south to take on the two-time reigning premiers Peel Thunder for the first time in 2018 on Saturday looking for a third consecutive win and to keep the pressure on for second spot.

It shapes as a fascinating contest in Mandurah on Saturday with Peel trying to close in on a top five position by winning consecutive games for the first time in 2018 while West Perth makes the journey to Bendigo Bank Stadium looking to make it three consecutive wins itself.

The game will also be the first meeting between Peel and West Perth in 2018 with the Thunder winning their last meeting in Round 16 last year at Joondalup Arena by five goals.

West Perth's last trip to Bendigo Bank Stadium brought about a 35-point win in Round 5 last year as well coming off Peel's 10-goal win against the Falcons at Joondalup Arena in the 2016 first semi-final.

Prior to that, the Falcons had dominated the Thunder winning 12 straight matches in dominant fashion by an average of 35.8 points. That 12-game run including two 100-plus point wins for West Perth but also four others by single figures.

Now with plenty on the line with West Perth out to consolidate third position and Peel closing in on fifth, all signs point to a tremendous battle in Mandurah on Saturday.

West Perth put in a competitive showing against Subiaco losing by just 22 points heading into the State game break and since then with a bye in between, the Falcons beat East Fremantle by 88 points and East Perth by 24.

That improves the Falcons to a 5-3 record on the season to sit in third position a game behind South Fremantle and percentage ahead of Swan Districts.

Peel beat Claremont by 11 points in a scrappy affair at Claremont Oval last Saturday but it was the four points that mattered for the premiers of the past two seasons. 

The Thunder had lost the last two games to Subiaco and East Fremantle, the league's top and bottom teams, by a combined 116 points the previous two weeks.

But the win over the Tigers improved them to a 3-5 record and they would be just percentage out of the top five with a win against West Perth.

Peel is the second lowest-scoring team in the competition at just 70.1 points a game while West Perth is fourth at 95.1. The Falcons are also third best defensively at 78.3 points with the Thunder conceding 89.6 points a game.

West Perth coach Bill Monaghan is hoping the Falcons can continue the momentum from Monday's WA Day win over East Perth against the other WAFL aligned team on Saturday.

"It was an exciting day on Monday and I thought it was a pretty good game. In the end we were able to get over the to of them and it was great to hold down third spot and get a break on a couple of the other rivals," Monaghan said.

"We have some top-end talent like Aaron Black, Shane Nelson and Andrew Strijk when he plays, but what we have to rely on is having a united front. I think our players like playing together and when we do that, and play our brand of footy we are competitive against everyone.

"We probably don’t have the talent to just go out there and win it on an individual basis, not that sides try to do that anyway, but we have to be united and committed. Monday was a good example of that."

West Perth has added Dean Munns, Rudy Riddoch, Dylan Yem and Baylee James to its squad from the team that beat East Perth on Monday.

During the Falcons' reserves win over the Royals, Munns had 21 possessions and five marks, Riddoch 18 disposals, six marks and 1.5, Yem 15 touches, seven marks and five tackles, and James 14 possessions and eight tackles.

Connor West is one player out of the Falcons line-up to take on Peel on Saturday in Mandurah with Andrew Strijk and Kody Manning still sidelined as well.

There are plenty of changes once again at Peel Thunder after Brandon Matera, Hayden Ballantyne, Michael Johnson and Danyle Pearce all came in this Saturday and were instrumental in the win against Claremont.

As a result, Matera and Ballantyne have been put themselves in the mix for a recall into Fremantle's AFL line-up to take on Adelaide at Optus Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

Ryan Nyhuis and Griffin Logue have also been named in the extended squad for the Dockers while Harley Bennell is out as well for the Thunder with a sore calf.

Peel will welcome back Cameron Sutcliffe against West Perth on Saturday at Bendigo Bank Stadium with Hugh Dixon, Matthew Piggott, James Kirby, Michael Tassone, Jakeb Shine and Haydn Matthews in the selection mix as well.

Broadcast – HFM, Footy Radio