Round 17 Preview: Demons v Royals

Saturday, July 28, 2018 - 9:14 AM

The stakes are high as the Demons prepare to take on the Royals at Leederville Oval this afternoon in the Round 17 contest.

East Perth might have been a mainstay of finals over much of the last decade while Perth hasn’t reached a single finals series since 1997, but that all goes out the window with plenty on the line when they meet on Saturday at Leederville Oval.

Perth comes into the game having won three straight matches and five of its past six to now be in its best place to reach finals in 20 years this late in a season. The Demons come into Saturday's game in fourth position with a 7-7 record to be a game clear of the fifth placed Claremont. Another win on Saturday against the Royals and the Demons take a giant step towards breaking that finals drought.

Despite Perth's shock five-point win in Round 22 last year that cost the Royals a finals place but couldn't save the Demons from the wooden spoon, and East Perth has dominated recent meetings between the two teams.

East Perth won the first meeting of 2018 between the two teams with a 37-point win in Round 4 this year at Lathlain Park and then before Round 22 last year, the Royals had won 10 in-a-row against the Demons by an average of 48.3 points.

Going back further and East Perth has won 18 of the previous 22 clashes with Perth dating back over the past decade.

The biggest difference for Perth in this run of winning five of its past six matches has been the Demons' ability to put a score on the board.

Over the course of its first eight games of the season, Perth averaged a score of 78.5 points and didn’t break 100 points, with the closest being the 15.9 (99) it scored in Round 7 to beat Claremont by a solitary point.

But over the last six matches, the Demons have managed to average scoring 100.2 points a game including a high of 21.13 (139) against East Fremantle in Round 11 and reaching over 100 points in three of the six matches.

In that six-game stretch, we have seen Michael Bennell kick 17 goals, Kristian Cary 14, Cody Ninyette 14, Corey Byrne seven, and now Spencer White five, including four last week against East Fremantle.

That firepower could be challenging for East Perth to slow down with the Royals conceding 85.5 points a game since heading into the State game break on a four-game winning streak.

They have won once since then, over Swan Districts two weeks ago by 10 goals, but overall since that fourth straight win against East Fremantle in Round 6, East Perth has averaged a score of just 68.1 points a game while conceding over 85.

They have only scored 100 points once in that stretch, the win over Swans, while not kicking more than 10 goals in any of the seven losses, including just three goals in the wet last week against Claremont. 

Meanwhile, the Royals have given up over 100 points twice in that stretch and they will be doing well to not let the Demons off the chain again on Saturday.

With the three straight victories and impressive form on top of the return of key players from injury Spencer White, Devin McFarlane, Christian Eyres and Jared Bell, the Demons line-up is in good shape.

There are no outs at this stage from the team that dominated East Fremantle after half-time last week but Mitch Browne, Daniel Horan and Marshall Jones have been added to the squad.

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