Royals keen to spoil West Perth s big day
East Perth will sorely miss Craig Wulff, right, while the Falcons are considering pushing Marcus Adams, left, to defence. Picture: Ian Munro/WA News

Century margins only come around every 100 years, so there is no expectation of a repeat of the recent blowout when West Perth host East Perth today.

The teams had met 330 times before the Falcons produced the first 100-point difference between the bitter foes in the round-four boilover at Medibank Stadium.

Two of the WAFL's best defensive teams expect nothing like that result today when the home team will be buoyed by the 20th anniversary celebrations of its club's move to Arena Joondalup and the visitors expect to continue the improvement they have shown in the past month.

The teams are separated by two wins but only one place on the ladder, with West Perth's disjointed season producing both the biggest and smallest victories of the WAFL season as well as limited consistency of effort and impact.

East Perth could end the round in second place on the ladder and are looming ominously as their home-grown core and West Coast cohort continue to gel well. But both teams will be missing key figures, and their ability to find effective replacements will be critical to their bids for success.

East Perth veteran Craig Wulff, as courageous and committed a player as any to pull on the black and blue guernsey, will be out of action as he recovers from finger surgery.

And West Perth have lost the classy Andrew Krakouer to a knee ailment while the will-o'-the-wisp's 2010 premiership teammate Matt Spencer, nearly as much a key to Swan Districts' triumph that year as the sublime centreman, retired suddenly last week.

State tyro Nic Rodda could be employed as a key defender in place of Spencer, and Falcons coach Bill Monaghan speculated that power forward Marcus Adams might also move back.

"It all depends on how East Perth line up," Monaghan said.

"The type of players that come back from the West Coast game will have an impact on whether we go taller or smaller.

"Or we might run the gauntlet with a stronger running team."

Chris Keunen has beaten Paul Johnson in the ruck in the past two meetings and the Falcons string-bean will need to produce a hat-trick if his team is to prevail.

West Perth may not match their premiership form of last season but they still have a strong defensive unit that gives up league lows of just 78 points and 41 inside 50s a game.

East Perth are barely less effective in defence but boast an imposing attack that will welcome back Josh Smith in a tall set alongside Eagles Callum Sinclair, Scott Lycett and Fraser McInnes.

West Perth intangibles include the motivational presence of premiership coach Darren Harris and the pioneering Jeff Gieschen, as well as a host of flag-winning players and club stalwarts who could help swell the crowd above 6000.

"The type of players that come back from the West Coast game will have an impact …" " *Bill Monaghan *

The West Australian

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