PEEL Thunder are back-to-back grand finalists after beating the Subiaco Lions by 24-points at Leederville Oval to earn a spot in the 2017 WAFL grand final.
The Thunder held the lead at each major break, finishing with a final score of 14.8 (92) to Subiaco’s 10.8 (68).
Peel player Brayden Lawler said securing a win and a spot in the grand final was good, but it was only half the job.
“It’s awesome, Peel are a good chance to go back to back this year,” he said
“It’s a great feeling, but we know that getting there is only half the job and we still have to rock up to the game and give a good effort on the day and come home with a win.”
Subiaco were first to score with a behind one minute into the game, but were goalless until 25 minutes into the first term, while Peel scored five majors.
Lawler expressed the importance of having a strong start to the game as Subiaco broke away early last time they played each other.
“Last time we played them, they jumped us, I think they kicked four goals to nothing in the first quarter,” he said. “It was really good to win the first quarter, it put us in good stead.”
In the second quarter, Peel managed to hold Subiaco to only one goal as the Thunder kicked four more to increase their lead at half-time.
Lawler said it was a good indicator of Peel’s strength as Subiaco have always proven to be a strong adversary on the field.
“We know they’re a great side, they are the benchmark of the competition; we came away with good intent today,” he said.
After a comfortable lead at half-time, Subiaco came out of the locker room fired up, scoring five goals to Peel’s three, shrinking their lead to only 20 points.
Brayden said coach Cam Shepherd’s message at three-quarter-time was simple.
“Shepherd said just to not give up; for a bit there, it looked like they wanted a comeback pretty hard, but we managed to hold them off and steal the win,” he said.
Subiaco’s accuracy was a weakness in the final term, as they scored four behinds and only one goal while Peel locked in their win with two goals.
Benjamin Hancock was a standout Peel player, putting up two majors on the board for the day whilst Rory O’Brien was a dominant force on field with 25 disposals and four tackles.
Lawler said O’Brien was not only a big presence on the field for the team, but also for the team’s culture.
“Not only what he does with the ball, but as a leader, he’s a great leader of our club, he adds a leaf to our book,” he said.
Lawler asserted that the day’s effort could not be credited to standout players only and every player was great across the board.
“Tabsy (Matt Tabener) up forward takes a lot of points, Collins was outstanding, Nyhuis did a good job,” he said.
The Thunder have a bye week due to the win before facing the winner of next week’s preliminary final between Subiaco and South Fremantle in the grand final on Sunday, September 24 at Subiaco Oval.