Lions thun­der­struck by star-stud­ded premier­ship debu­tants

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - De­clan Byrne

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.

Pic­tures: Daniel Wilkins/The Sun­day Times

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.

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