Top four eye premiership success
The 2018 home-and-away WKFL season has drawn to a close and the top four sides will battle it out for the premiership in a three-week finals series, starting this Saturday.
Cable Beach, Looma Eagles, Bidyadanga Emus and Derby Tigers will all face off in the semi-finals, with Cable Beach and Looma Eagles given a second chance to make the grand final through the preliminary final, given their top-two finish on the ladder.
Here is an in-depth look at each side’s chances heading into what is shaping as an explosive finals series.
Cable Beach have been the clear frontrunners from the start of the season and may be everyone’s pick for the 2018 premiership.
Under Brett Claudius’ leadership, the Greenbacks have won all but one match this season — their only loss to Bidyadanga Emus in round 10.
Cable Beach were quick to develop a winning streak along with the Derby Tigers at the start of the season and held on in round five to hand the Tigers their first loss of the season in a one-point thriller.
Consistently dominant displays from the likes of CJ Oakley, Sonny Dann, Anthony Treacy and Dion Parriman could give Cable Beach the edge over the other teams.
They will be looking to earn their seventh premiership in just over a decade. Their most recent premiership was in 2015 when they defeated the Peninsula Bombers by 67 points to win their sixth premiership in nine years.
Cable Beach’s last final appearance was in 2017 but fell short of reaching the preliminary final after losing to the Bidyadanga Emus by 10 points.
The high-flying Eagles did not have the best start to the season with a number of losses and a match cancellation affecting their finals chances but they certainly rose to the occasion to earn second place on the ladder.
During the home-and-away season, the Eagles managed a seven-game winning streak from round five to round 11, upsetting the Emus, Tigers and reigning premiers Broome Bulls in the process.
A few late-season wins helped the Eagles draw level with the Emus and the Tigers, with 10 wins this season. With the likes of Anthony Gunyan, Ashwin Bilgin and Edward McGinty among the league’s top goal scorers, spectators can expect plenty of fighting efforts on the forward line.
The Eagles will be looking to score their second premiership after winning their inaugural grand final appearance in 2013 against Cable Beach, winning by just two points.
Their most recent finals appearance was in 2016 when they fell short in the grand final against the Emus by eight points.
It has been difficult to get a solid gauge on the Emus this season, with the term “rollercoaster” the only way to sum up their 14 games.
The Bidyadanga side had a tumultuous home-and-away season of ups and downs, picking up wins where fans least expected but also falling on the big stage on a number of occas-ions. Their biggest victories came towards the end of the season, when they upset Cable Beach and destroyed the Derby Tigers, both on their home ground.
They also picked up some big victories this year, including their round seven 119-point annihilation of the Saints, who finished the day with just one point.
But there were a number of games that will sit in the back of the minds of the Bidyadanga players, including a loss to the Broome Bulls in round four and the thrashing by Cable Beach and the Looma Eagles.
The side is red hot on a six-match winning streak right now, but will have to bring out their very best if they want to capture their second flag in three seasons.
Much like the Emus, the Tigers have gone through the highs and lows this season, but can never be ruled out of the premiership conversation. In their hunt to end a 34-year flag drought, the Derby side proved, at times, they were a force to be reckoned with.
They opened their season with a bang by thrashing the Broome Bulls in a grand final rematch, 16.12 (108) to 5.4 (34).
They went undefeated until falling to Cable Beach by a point in round five.
This momentum was not carried to the end of the season, as they went down to the Looma Eagles, Bidyadanga Emus and Cable Beach in the second half of the year.
Key forwards Ronan Maher and Jamahl Bedford and midfielders Wade Wungundin and Curtley Hunter will play important roles this finals series.
After a good break, Derby will come out firing and are certainly no outside chance to get the premiership they have been chasing for three decades.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails