Friday, July 20, 2018 - 3:14 PM by Chris Pike

WEST Perth is back after the bye to tackle the struggling Swan Districts at Joondalup Arena on Saturday with the Falcons out to further secure third position and keep their top two dreams alive in 2018.

West Perth and Swan Districts lock horns at Joondalup Arena on Saturday in a contest crucial to both with the Falcons trying to further consolidate third position and stay in touch of second while Swans just need to find a way to snap a losing run and keep their finals hopes alive.

West Perth had the bye last weekend and comes into the Round 16 contest in third position on the WAFL ladder with an 8-5 record to be just a game behind the second placed South Fremantle and two ahead of the fourth placed Perth.

So that has the Falcons looking solid in that third spot but a win on Saturday and they are right in the hunt still for a top two finish especially with a clash against South Fremantle to come in Round 18.

Swan Districts might have now lost five matches in a row, but it was only last Saturday's 61-point defeat to East Perth that saw them slip from fourth position down to seventh with a 5-8 record.

But the black-and-whites remain just percentage out of fifth position coming into Round 16 and a win on Saturday has the potential to see them back into fourth position if Perth loses to East Fremantle and East Perth goes down to Claremont.

Even though Swan Districts beat West Perth in last year's elimination final in front of almost 6000 people at Steel Blue Oval, it's the Falcons who have had the better of recent meetings between the two sides.

West Perth beat Swans by 31 points back in Round 4 of this year at Steel Blue Oval and that meant the Falcons have won six of the last seven, and eight of the past 10 matches against the black-and-whites.

Leading into last year's elimination final defeat, West Perth had won five straight games over Swan Districts by an average of just 15.4 points – so while the Falcons were winning the games were largely competitive.

Swan Districts plays a West Perth team coming off a bye on Saturday with Swans also having faced East Perth, Perth and Peel Thunder over the past month who have also been fresh having had the week off directly leading into the contest.

But the form of Swans over the past six weeks has been a concern with losses to Claremont by 20 points, Subiaco by 82, Peel by 18, Perth by 24 and East Perth by 24.

Across those five matches, they have averaged just 61.6 points per game and haven't managed more than 11 goals in any of them while giving up 102.6 a game and more than 100 points in three of the five defeats.

West Perth, meanwhile, was in good touch prior to the bye beating East Fremantle by five points goal on the of a competitive 33-point loss to Subiaco. Prior to that, the Falcons beat Perth and Claremont following a three-point loss to Peel and that came following wins over the Sharks and Royals.

So the Falcons have won five of their last seven matches and the two losses still had plenty of positives so they will be back at Joondalup Arena full of confidence against Swan Districts on Saturday.

West Perth is coming off the bye and before that a solid win over East Fremantle to remain solid in third position on the WAFL ladder. 

There's little reason for change at the Falcons and as a result only Baylee James has been named out of the side that beat the Sharks a fortnight ago. 

Nathan Alexandre, Jordan Mills and Rudy Riddoch are all in the mix to return to the West Perth line-up to take on Swan Districts at Joondalup Arena on Saturday with Kael Coleman a chance to make his league debut after continued solid form in the reserves.

There are plenty of changes once again at Swan Districts as coach Adam Pickering tries to find that winning formula again with his team still winless since defeating Perth back in Round 9.

Brayden Hackett should be right to return from injury and Josh Cipro and Brandon Erceg could come in. 

And a week after Graydon Wilson made his league debut against East Perth last Saturday at Steel Blue Oval, Jarred Cameron, Tristen Raynor and Patrick Italiano are all in the mix to make their league debuts this Saturday against West Perth at Joondalup Arena.

The retired Todd Banfield goes out of the Swan Districts side to face the Falcons while Laurence Grescos and Jackson Slater are also out of the black-and-whites line-up.

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