PEEL Thunder have earned a hard-fought 24-point win over South Fremantle at Bendigo Bank Stadium on Saturday , placing them just outside the top five.
South Fremantle brought the margin down to two points at three-quarter-time, but the Thunder held them off with four goals in the final term, finishing 13.12(90) to 9.12(66).
Peel’s Benjamin Hancock said the team focused on playing the brand of footy that saw them win two premierships in the last two years.
“We came out with a big focus just to play team footy and play the way we’ve played the last couple of years which boasts the success, so to come out today and beat South Freo, it’s a big win for us,” he said.
The Thunder started strong once again, kicking five goals to South Fremantle’s two in the opening term.
Hancock said their early lead lifted the team as they tried to bounce back from two previous losses.
“We always have a good challenge against them and getting up at quarter-time was a good boost for us,” he said.
South Fremantle swung the momentum in their favour after half-time, closing the margin to just two points heading into the final term.
Peel came out firing in the fourth quarter though with three unanswered goals, as well as applying aggressive pressure and locking the ball in their forward half.
This proved to be too much for South Fremantle’s defence, as the Thunder took home the Gary Holland Cup by 24-points.
Hancock said the Bulldogs are a tough side, so it felt great for Peel to close the game out cleanly.
“After half time they really challenged us in that third, then we held well and finished off the last quarter well so it was a good win,” he said.
Brayden Lawler and Hugh Dixon both ended the game with three goals to their names, Hancock said Lawler’s presence was important in getting the team over the line.
“He’s always applying that pressure up forward and turning the ball over,” he said.
Hancock also praised second-gamer James Sturrock who managed his first goal for the side.
“He’s really good, he’s come along and slotted into that wing role perfectly, he’s still learning a bit but that’ll come, he’s only played two games obviously so for him to get his first goal as well was really good for him,” he said.
Dockers midfielder Mitchell Crowden (27 disposals and nine tackles) had another strong performance, supported by Luke Strnadica in the ruck, who dominated with 46 hit-outs.
With only four games left before finals, Peel will now face West Perth at Joondalup Arena on July 28 at 2.15pm.