East Perth player Paul Johnson will be wearing jumper number 85 in the game against West Perth today to celebrate Cov s 85-year anniversary. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian.
East Perth player Paul Johnson will be wearing jumper number 85 in the game against West Perth today to celebrate Cov's 85-year anniversary. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian.

Premiership favourites East Perth are bracing for a physical onslaught from a West Perth side still reeling from their Foxtel Cup humiliation when the teams meet in today's derby at Medibank Stadium.

A large crowd is expected for the game at West Perth's spiritual home, which has been in possession of East Perth and Subiaco for the past decade.

The teams will play for the Jeremy Silcock Shield in memory of the popular former East Perth player, who died on a players' trip to Bali in 1996, and Royals ruckman Paul Johnson will wear No.85 in a tribute to club sponsor Covs.

East Perth will start the match hot favourites to extend their winning streak to 10 matches - a feat they have not achieved since 2000.

It would be a good omen, given the Royals ended a 22-year premiership drought under Tony Micale that year.

Fifth-placed West Perth remain a slim chance to reach the finals this season, but their flag defence appears over.

Tuesday's Foxtel Cup grand final hiding at the hands of Williamstown only added to the disappointment of a mediocre WAFL campaign.

The Falcons were outmuscled and outclassed on a cold night in Geelong, but East Perth wingman Freddie Clutterbuck said his side was wary of a strong response from a West Perth side that would be out to regain lost pride.

"We know that West Perth will be stung and they will come out firing," Clutterbuck said.

"We're very wary of that and we obviously have to match them in the intensity and hard-ball stakes.

"I think it will be a very physical contest.

"Leederville Oval (Medibank Stadium) is sort of chopped up a bit now.

"It's muddy and wet and it's been raining all week, so the ground's not going to be fantastic, but that works fine for us.

"We know it's going to be a hard and tough game so we'll focus on playing the ground that way and playing that style of game."

East Perth will look to take advantage of their opponents' short turnaround from Tuesday and could be bolstered by the late inclusion of Eagles emergencies Sharrod Wellingham, Jamie Bennell and Josh Hill.

West Perth youngsters Mitch van Berlo and Max Alexander will make their league debuts.

Both have made senior appearances in the Foxtel Cup, but have been restricted to reserves football over the past three seasons.

"We know that West Perth will be stung and they will come out firing. We're very wary of that …""East Perth wingman *Freddie Clutterbuck *

The West Australian

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