Royals have fight ahead
Royals have fight ahead

East Perth coach Brian Dawson doesn't believe his side deserves the tag of premiership favourites heading into the WAFL finals series.

The Royals lost just four games on their way to claiming the minor premiership and will be bolstered by up to a dozen West Coast players for Sunday's second semifinal against Subiaco at Medibank Stadium.

East Perth are listed as $1.66 flag favourites with the TAB but are wary of their opponents, having lost both clashes with the Lions this year.

Subiaco will go in confident, with Chris Phelan, Andrew McDougall and Chris Deluca all set to return from injury.

"Everyone will probably rate us favourites but I'm not sure that we necessarily should be," Dawson said.

"We've been probably even across the year, Subi have always been around the place and Swans were there for a while.

"I certainly know full well that anything can happen in finals."

East Perth entered last year's grand final as warm favourites, only to be overrun by a rampant West Perth.

Dawson expected that heartbreak would spur his side during this year's finals.

"The group is very driven to go one better and it's great that we have an opportunity to do that," Dawson said.

"But it's just an opportunity at the moment and we've got to make the most of it from here."

While East Perth, Subiaco and East Fremantle have been in decent form, Swan Districts have limped into the finals on the back of four straight defeats.

They were thumped by East Fremantle in their most recent outing in round 22 and meet the Sharks again at ATOM Stadium (East Fremantle Oval) in a cutthroat first semifinal on Sunday.

Swans will be without influential captain Tallan Ames (hamstring) and rising star Blaine Boekhorst (knee) due to season-ending injuries.

Coach Greg Harding admitted Swans had struggled to stay focused over the past few weeks with their finals status secure, but said his young players had regrouped during the bye in round 23.

"We've known we were going to make it for a while now and our record's been poor leading into this game," Harding said.

"We've been working really hard to make sure that these kids realise that it's a great opportunity that's been put in front of them."

East Fremantle coach Steve Malaxos led his side to a grand final in 2012 and felt anything was possible this season.

"I think we've got a chance of going all the way but when you're in the first semi you can't afford one bad game, that's for sure," Malaxos said.

The West Australian

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