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NAIDOC ROUND PREVIEW V PEEL THUNDER

Saturday, July 8, 2017 - 10:50 AM by Chris Pike
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WEST Perth is back at HBF Arena to take on Peel Thunder in the WAFL NAIDOC Round on Saturday with the Falcons looking to replicate its earlier season standout performance against the reigning premiers in Mandurah.

WEST Perth and Peel Thunder both currently sit inside the WAFL top five with just one game between them but the difference between a win and loss will be stark for both on Saturday when they meet at HBF Arena.

West Perth and Peel have a recent of habit of playing some exciting, free-flowing and close encounters and this Saturday could very well be another of those with plenty on the line for both clubs.

Only one game separates the two on the WAFL with Peel sitting at 8-5 in third spot and West Perth 7-6 in fifth position.

That means that a win for the Thunder on Saturday would take the reigning premiers two games clear of the Falcons and potentially only percentage behind the second placed South Fremantle.

However, a loss and Peel will just be clinging to a spot inside the top five.

West Perth remains a game clear in fifth position with a win on Saturday for the Falcons to potentially have them only percentage out of third spot depending on the other NAIDOC Round results.

But a loss for West Perth and the Falcons could slip outside the top five altogether if Claremont beats South Fremantle. If not, they could slip out next week with West Perth having the bye.

West Perth comes into the game on the back of three straight losses at the hands of South Fremantle, Claremont and Subiaco, but the past two weeks have seen the Falcons have their chances late against the Tigers and Lions.

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Peel has won its last three to consolidate itself in third position with the victories against South Fremantle, East Fremantle and Claremont.

The two teams met earlier this season with West Perth impressing with a 35-point victory on Good Friday at Bendigo Bank Stadium.

The West Perth NAIDOC Round jumper is a striking design with the artwork over the top of the traditional red jumper with the blue sash. 

The two snakes symbolise the intertwining of two cultures with the feet showing walking together. The white stars then represent the 343 games played by club legend Bill Dempsey.

Peel Thunder's jumper, meanwhile, sees the two boomerangs representing offence and defence while the paw print is to pay homage to the dingo.

West Perth has among the strongest history of Indigenous players in the state dating back to legendary figures like Dempsey and Graham 'Polly' Farmer, and the Falcons will be represented on Saturday by lively forward Rudy Riddoch.

Peel Thunder has featured Indigenous stars like Darren Bolton, Allistair Pickett, Daniel Wells and Harley Bennell through its history.

While Leroy Jetta remains sidelined on Saturday, the Thunder will be led out by captain Gerald Ugle with fellow Indigenous players Traye Bennell and Danyle Pearce lining up alongside him.

West Perth will lose two important players with key forward Michael Lourey and in-form small defender Scott Nelson succumbing to injury. Lourey has a fractured finger and Nelson a broken thumb following last week's loss in the wet to Subiaco at HBF Arena.

Lourey and Nelson join Joe Morrow and Tyson Moulton currently sidelined with hand injuries.

West Perth will welcome back Steve Potente who adds some extra bite across half-forward.

Nathan Alexandre, Riley Hutchinson, Mitch Peirce and Sam Rotham are the other players at the Falcons in the mix at the selection table.

Peel has plenty of changes from the team that beat Claremont by two points last week at Bendigo Bank Stadium.

Most of the changes appear to make the Thunder a stronger line-up despite Shane Kersten being recalled by Fremantle to take on North Melbourne at Domain Stadium on Sunday. Alex Bray is also out for Peel.

Meanwhile, Dockers trio Ed Langdon, Danyle Pearce and Harley Balic will all return for Peel to add some experience and running power to the line-up.

Brayden Lawler, Damon Cramer and Matthew Piggott are the other players in the mix for a call up with the Thunder.

ROUND 16 – NAIDOC WEEK
WEST PERTH v PEEL THUNDER – HBF ARENA, SATURDAY 2.15PM
Broadcast – 720 ABC Perth

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