Peel Thunder's Ben Hancock and East Fremantle's Matt Jupp ahead of the 2023 WAFL Grand Final

After six months of action up and down West Australia, the premiership race is now down to just two as East Fremantle and Peel Thunder prepare to clash at Optus Stadium this Sunday in the WAFL Grand Final.

For East Fremantle, it's a chance to win their first WAFL premiership since 1998 and the 30th in club history.

As for Peel, a third premiership awaits having won back-to-back flags in 2016 & 2017.

Both coaches are seeking their second premiership in their WAFL careers as Bill Monaghan took West Perth to a premiership in 2013 while Geoff Valentine also won a premiership with West Perth as a player way back in 1995.

It's the first time East Fremantle and Peel Thunder have clashed in the Grand Final and the first in 23 years where any of Subiaco, Claremont, West Perth and South Freantle will not feature in the season decider. 2000 was the last instance where East Perth thrashed East Fremantle to win the first of their hat-trick of premierships.

But past history won't be on the players' minds when they walk onto the field of battle this Sunday afternoon.

Let's look at the team's path to the decider here.

EAST FREMANTLE

By the time Bill Monaghan arrived as Sharks coach, the Sharks had won only 20 of 78 matches and the club was at a low ebb. Now over a period of three years, the Sharks have climbed back up the ladder. From 7th in 2021 to 2nd in 2022, East Fremantle are now a chance to top off this amazing period of history with a premiership.

Led by captain Matthew Jupp, the Sharks have taken enormous strides to be the side they are, with their recruitment of key stars in 2023 in the form of former Eagle Hugh Dixon, who has played brilliant roles in the ruck and in the forward line, playing his part.

The standout recruit however has been former South Adelaide player Fraser Turner who quickly adapted to the WAFL and averaged over 20 disposals throughout the season. He lifted his responsibility in midfield when Milan Murdock missed the final six home and away games due to injury and the team picked up their clearance game even when Murdock returned for the second semi-final.

Harry Marsh will also hold a vital key for victory on Sunday, coming over from Subiaco with premiership experience to lift the side to another dimension and is a proven big-game performer.

The forward line depth has been tested with injuries to Jonathon Marsh and Dillon O'Reilly across the season but the flexibility of the Sharks is what sets this team apart from the rest in 2023.

Players like Cody Leggett, Hugh Dixon, Alexander Montauban and Brayden Lawler provided plenty of scoreboard pressure in some of the big Sharks wins this season.

PEEL THUNDER

Peel Thunder some four weeks ago were fighting to even secure the double chance in the finals, but three wins in the last four matches is the level of form that Peel have found at the right time and the balance between the local Peel players and the Fremantle AFL-listed players has been a huge factor for Peel's push towards their third WAFL flag in their short history.

Their record against the Sharks however is not on par, with only one win against East Fremantle, which came by four points in Round 1 at Lane Group Stadium. They got close in their next two meetings, losing by 19 in Round 14 in Geraldton and only by five points in the recent semi-final.

Captain Benjamin Hancock this season teamed with Blair Bell, Will Brodie and Brady Grey to form a terrific midfield unit that will play a vital role in deciding the outcome of Sunday's Grand Final in addition to local player Jack Sears.

Combining their midfield with a strong backline that is capable of shutting down many key forwards out of the game will be pivotal. Jacob Blight has become one of the best intercept-marking players in the competition and his role will be of major importance. He has valuable backup from the likes of Karl Worner and Joel Hamling who can match up well with a strong East Fremantle forward line.

The Thunder can shake up the Sharks with their intensity around the ball through their big men in Riley Smith and Liam Reidy, who both average over 20 hitouts in addition to their follow-up work to dominate the clearances into attack.

Nathan Wilson also will be one player many will keep their eyes on come Sunday after his recent delisting from Fremantle after 78 games, but at the age of 30, his rebound from defence has got him playing a high level for Peel.

TEAM NEWS

East Fremantle will be without Jonathon Marsh, who failed a fitness test this week to overcome a leg injury he sustained during the week off, while it's likely Dillon O'Reilly will be bought back. Jarrad Jansen is also tipped to return after missing the second semi-final in place of the unlucky Lennon Marlin.

Peel Thunder will go into Sunday's game with the same 22 who defeated Subiaco in the preliminary final.

PREDICTION

East Fremantle By 1 point

SIMPSON MEDALLIST

Fraser Turner [East Fremantle]

GRAND FINAL DAY Fixture

Reserves: Swan Districts VS West Perth - 9:20am

Colts: Claremont VS Perth - 12:10pm

League: East Fremantle VS Peel Thunder - 3:20pm

*All times local.