Thunder strikes Tigers but Harley hurt
PEEL Thunder did little to convince anyone they are seriously going to defend their title, but at least ground their way to a hardfought 11-point win against Claremont at Claremont Oval on Saturday for the start of the WA Day round of WAFL.
Docker Harley Bennell was again sidelined early with his troublesome calf and scans during the week will reveal the extent of the relapse.
Peel welcomed back a mountain of experience, with Hayden Ballantyne, Michael Johnson, Brandon Matera and Danyle Pearce all dropped from AFL duties to regain form but Claremont pushed them from start to finish, with Peel eventually running out 11 point winners, 10.5 (65) to 7.12 (54).
With their third win of the season, Peel still have a hope of participating in the finals but will need to be far more consistent and convincing in coming weeks to defend their title.
Claremont wasted many opportunities in front of goals to their detriment, despite dominating the contest in the second and third quarters. After making headway in the third quarter, Claremont trailed by only four points at three-quarter time but couldn’t deliver the knockout blow when it was needed.
Tom Lee kicked three goals for the Tigers and Michael Johnson played well in an unfamiliar role in attack for Peel Thunder.
Matera returned to form in his first game for his aligned club from the Dockers and put his hand up for a quick return to AFL ranks, especially after the dismal Fremantle performance in Melbourne.
Bolton and Mitchell continued their solid work for Claremont but simply could not lift their teammates enough, or kick goals when they counted to get the Tigers home. Both teams have been disappointing to date, as more was expected from both leading into the 2018 season.
Jesse Dart PERTH had the upper hand for the first two-and-a-half quarters before being run over by a rampaging Swans outfit in their WA Day game at Steel Blue Oval in Bassendean on Saturday.
With eight goals to two in the first term, Perth showed they have grown in confidence from recent performances and it appeared the crowd was in for a real upset.
Still 28 points up at half-time, the Demons looked like they had come to play and had stopped the Swans with hard tackling and fast ball movement throughout the first half.
An incident in the third quarter where a melee bubbled over and Swans were awarded a 50m penalty that resulted in a goal proved to be a turning point and spark for the Swans midfield to take control and pull them back to level scores at the final break.
In growing darkness due to a late start for the television broadcast, Swans absolutely dominated the final term to turn a 40-point deficit in the second quarter to a 30-point victory, 17.13 (115) to 13.7 (85).
Perth were held goalless in the final term and only scored one major after half- time to Swans’ 10goal onslaught, with five in each of the final two quarters.
Brayden Noble was impressive with five goals for the Swans, while Gault, Riggio and Wilson kicked two each. David Ellard worked hard throughout for the winners.
Brant Colledge, Corey Yeo and Corey Burns were tireless for Perth, while evergreen Clint Jones worked exceptionally hard and looked totally spent late in the game. Michael Bennell also showed a lot of promise in an impressive debut for the Demons with three goals and some impressive play.
Swans move to five wins and look a good chance to again feature in the finals under first-year coach Adam Pickering.
Tom Tapping IN other WAFL news this week, legends Bernie Naylor from South Fremantle and West Perth centreman Mel Whinnen were inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame.
It is wonderful and long-overdue recognition of two more great WAFL players that never ventured to the VFL system.
Naylor booted 23 goals in a single game and a WAFL record of 167 goals in a season for the Bulldogs in 1953. In all, he kicked more than 100 goals in a season an amazing five times.
Mel Whinnen took home the Breckler Medal, West Perth’s fairest and best an incredible nine times, was twice runner-up for the Sandover Medal and holds a record of 371 WAFL games, a tally unlikely to ever be surpassed. PEEL Thunder coach Cam Shepherd said it was a relief when the final siren sounded during Saturday’s game against Claremont at Claremont Oval.
“It was a hard game against two sides down the bottom of the ladder,” he said. “Both were looking for wins. “Claremont had a chance but they missed a few goals. “We were fortunate in that regard. “It was such a relief to hear the final siren and to secure the points.”
Shepherd said Brendan Matera, who came from the Fremantle Dockers, played well.
Matera kicked three goals, had 20 possessions and eight marks for Peel.
Shepherd said Alex Cohen had been working hard in the reserves and was well rewarded. Cohen kicked two goals during his first league game.
Peel face West Perth at Benidgo Bank Stadium on Saturday.
Shepherd said he was looking forward to the game.
“It’s good to play a side that’s above us on the ladder and playing well,” he said.
Brayden Noble kicked five goals for Swan Districts.
Coach Cam Shepherd.