Lions thunderstruck by star-studded premiership debutants
SUBIACO has been denied a second premiership hat-trick in a decade, going down to Peel Thunder by 23 points in the WAFL grand final on Sunday.
The Lions succumbed to a Peel side featuring 18 Dockers players, including Simpson medallist Connor Blakely (38 disposals).
He ran amok with Ed Langdon (39 disposals, 1 goal) in midfield, with Kyal Horsley (39 disposals, 2 goals) playing a lone hand for Subiaco, going toe-to-toe for much of the match.
More than 15,000 fans packed into Subiaco Oval, but many left disappointed as Subiaco failed to overcome a costly first quarter.
The Lions rode out the storm early as the Thunder kicked four straight points to start the game before striking first through late inclusion Bradley Stevenson.
With the Lions leading by two points, a starstudded Peel side kicked into action with Tendai Mzungu banging through a goal from 50m to restore his side’s lead.
A goal from Michael Apeness was followed by two from former Subiaco dynamo Shane Yarran as the Thunder led by four goals at the first change.
Clancy Wheeler looked to provide a spark for his side with a classy left-foot snap from the pocket in the first minute, but Yarran bobbed up for his third two minutes later, restoring the four-goal margin.
The Lions defence resisted wave after wave of attacks from Peel, but when Gerald Ugle dispossessed Jordan Lockyer in the goal square and bundled the ball through for a major, the lead expanded to 28 points.
From there, the Lions mounted a mini-comeback with Liam Ryan capitalising on intense forward pressure to slot one from the pocket before a spearing Kyal Horsley goal reduced the margin to 16 points.
Yarran bagged a fourth and a steadier for the grand final debutants, but Wayde Twomey ensured his side would go into half-time trailing by 15 points, kicking a perfect rover’s goal two minutes later.
After the change, Peel was first to hit the board through Ugle after link-up play from Blair Bell and Yarran.
With the margin at 23 points, Subiaco began to show why they were hunting for a third straight premiership with constant pressure keeping Peel in defence mode.
Brett Robinson reduced the margin to 19 points as the Lions seemingly set up camp inside their attacking 50.
Kyal Horsley continued his fine day with a classy finish to get his side within two kicks at the 21-minute mark, but Yarran grabbed his fifth five minutes later to send Peel into the final change with a 16-point lead.
The final quarter promised to be full of drama, but it didn’t start well for Subiaco with Ugle earning a free kick in the pocket.
With the margin at 23 points, a nasty head clash between Simpson Medal contender Yarran and Aaron Heal changed the mood for both sides with the tempo slowing momentarily.
The Peel defence of Alex Silvagni, Ryan Nyhuis and Sam Collins continued to frustrate the Lions’ forward line as time became the enemy for Subiaco.
Chris Phelan grabbed a late consolation for Subiaco, but it counted for little as Peel made history with a 23-point victory, claiming a maiden WAFL flag.
Left: Subiaco's Adam Cockie gathers the ball in the second term of the WAFL grand final. Right: Peel's Zac Clarke competes with Subiaco's Clancy Wheeler at the bouncedown.