Two teams on the redemption trail face uphill battles on Saturday when reigning premiers Kalamunda face third-placed Wanneroo at Hartfield and Nedlands take on Perth-Bayswater at Sir Charles Court Reserve in the WA club rugby competition, sponsored by KWIK Crane and Transport Hire.

Midway through the 2009 season, the rematch of 2008 grand finalists Kalamunda and Wanneroo has proven to be a bizarre encounter.

Third-placed Wanneroo are reasonably situated for another grand final outing this year but for the Bulls, 2008 has been a season of pain and humiliation. They lost key forwards from their premiership winning team but their superb attacking back line remained largely intact. Inexplicably the team that was head and shoulders above the competition last year collapsed to six defeats from seven games in 2009, losing to teams they would have trounced by inflated margins last year to languish at eighth on the ladder.

However a late resurgence has gripped the Bulls in recent weeks, unlucky to lose a last gasp thriller against Associates three weeks ago and going on to smash Wests-Subiaco 83-29. Last week’s unexpected 41-5 hiding of fourth-placed Cottesloe may signal that Kalamunda have rediscovered their confidence and panache, setting up a worthy grand final rematch for Saturday.

Wanneroo have taken the reverse path this season. They have been the team to beat for much of the year but recent form has been patchy, stumbling to a horror 41-5 loss against the Seagulls three weeks ago. A redeeming 41-20 win over second-placed Associates followed and despite last Saturday’s solid 32-24 defeat by Palmyra that saw premiership favouritism pass to the Melville club, Wanneroo must go into the grand final rematch as favourites.

The two teams’ round one encounter was a solid 36-17 win to Wanneroo with the Bulls seriously outgunned up front, and despite a brief second half revival most of the game was one way traffic.

Kalamunda go into the return game injury free, and benefiting from the addition of massive Queensland prop Ehipa Thompson and the return of flanker Benny Caulder and halfback Aaron Muphy.

The boost to the pack is a major step forward in correcting the team’s shortcomings this year.

“We had six missing from last year’s forward pack in the first four or five games,” Bulls coach Paul King said.

“You lose a couple of games, your confidence goes and everything just contributes in the wrong way.

“But we got on top of it, tried to sort it out, a few players came back and all of a sudden, win a couple of games and away you go.”

The Associates game was a watershed for the embattled Bulls and King is confident the second half of the season will be a different proposition.

“We sort of turned the corner against Associates,” King said.

“My prediction is that teams better look out.”

The way Kalamunda overturned Cottesloe 41-5 last week should be sounding warning bells for teams who were ready to write the premiers off.

“That was our best game of the season,” King said.

“I thought the boys played really controlled footy. We dominated the whole game and led 41-0 until we made six changes and that’s when they scored their try.”

King expects another hard game from Wanneroo but says this time his team has the personnel to do the job.

“It’ll be a tough game,” King said.

“They’re a big pack and they try and get on top of you, and they have that sevens star in the back line, you can’t give him much room.

“I don’t expect too much will have changed. It’ll be a real hard game.

“Every game is won up front and we’re just going to really compete at the breakdown.

“Our set pieces have become a lot stronger and we’re going to take them on where they think they’re strongest.”

Returning to the top four from eighth on the table is an enormous ask but King says his team haven't given away their premiership defence.

"We need bonus points, but it's not impossible," King said.

"We won eleven in a row last year, and if you can do that once you can do it twice."

At Sir Charles Court Reserve, fifth-placed Perth-Bayswater and sixth-placed Nedlands both have envious eyes on Cottesloe’s slot in the top four.

Perennial heavyweights Nedlands found themselves in the unaccustomed and embarrassing position of having just two wins from their first seven games in their 75th anniversary season, but the Morley club has problems of its own. A rash of injuries and a loss of form cost Perth-Bayswater a game against an under-rated University team and a humiliating 50-17 hiding by red hot favourites, Palmyra, dropped them from the top four.

However, Nedlands have managed a couple of wins in recent weeks and Perth-Bayswater corrected some of its shortcomings with a gritty, wet weather 22-16 win over Associates last week. Nedlands has a formidable playing XV on paper and will be desperate to turn its season around at the half way mark. The two teams drew 20-20 in their round one match and another close encounter is on the cards, with Perth-Bayswater narrow favourites.

In other games, Associates will be expecting to hold the competition runner-up position when they meet embattled Rockingham at Lark Hill although recent losses may have battered their confidence, Cottesloe must be on a sure thing against an undergunned Wests-Subiaco team at Hartfield but favourites Palmyra will be on their guard against the unsung heroes from University when they meet at McGillivray Oval.,55938.html