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Swans, Tigers renew rivalry
Picture: The West Australian.

Swan Districts are an itch that Claremont need to scratch. The rivalry between the teams may not have reached the epic quality of the contests between West Coast and Sydney last decade, but it is carving its own significant history.

And just as Swans have had the Tigers' measure in their four grand final meetings, their recent clashes have seen the black and whites emerge triumphant from a series of nail-biters.

The 2010 grand final was one of the greatest matches in WAFL history, with Swans pinching a one-point victory after an Andrew Krakouer goal at the 33-minute mark of the last quarter. That game followed a draw earlier in the season.

Swans have also had the better of the Tigers this year with two single-figure wins bookending a round-16 reversal when Claremont delivered a 97-point thrashing during the early stages of a purple patch of form.

No wonder Claremont coach Marc Webb did not want to invest too much attention on Swans before the second semifinal at Claremont Oval tomorrow, focusing instead on his team's battles against all the finalists.

"We've had a reality check with losses to all three teams in the top four this season," Webb said.

"We can't say that we are better than any of those other teams, but we are hungry to beat them."

Swan Districts coach Greg Harding, a former Claremont player, is well aware of a history that includes Swans' grand final triumphs over the Tigers in 1982, 1983 and 1990, as well as two years ago.

He recognised Claremont's great efforts this season, including the Foxtel Cup win. But he believes Swans are a better team this year than 2010 because the workload is spread more evenly and there is less reliance on one star.

"Krakouer was massive in 2010 but we were reliant on him as a player and spiritual leader," Harding said.

"Now we've got Marlon Motlop and Shaun Hildebrandt and Dayle Garlett.

"And the difference to last year is that the senior players like Kyle Hams and Tim Geappen and Josh Roberts and Matt Riggio have stepped up, which makes a huge difference."

Premiership defender Brandon Franz is a chance to return for Claremont after Alex Silvagni was named in Fremantle's squad of 25 and travelled to Melbourne yesterday.

Franz is a natural match-up for Ashley Hansen, who will return from hamstring tightness to bolster Swans' attack.

The AFL and WAFL premiership forward has only produced two goals in each of his two outings against the Tigers this season, but kicked the winning score in the first meeting and monstered the Claremont defence in the opening 10 minutes of the last clash before resting to protect his hamstring.

Hansen has only played 12 games this season but kicked 63 goals to finish runner-up to Bulldog Ben Saunders' 66 in the Bernie Naylor Medal. He has formed a potent partnership with fellow tall Tim Geappen (48 goals) and crumbers Ryan Davis (26), Murray Newman (22) and Dayle Garlett (12).

Webb hinted last week the Tigers would also look at bringing in a smaller defender, perhaps Keifer Yu or Sam Fong, to help contain Swans' speedy small forwards.

Claremont have conceded only 70 points a match this season, the most miserly WAFL defence since 2005, and allowed opposition teams to score goals with a league-low 26 per cent of their forward 50 entries.