Peel Thunder finals hopes dealt a blow after eight-point loss to Claremont

Photo by Isabella Sullivan
Photo by Isabella Sullivan

PEEL Thunder’s finals hopes have been dealt a blow following an eight-point comeback loss at the hands of Claremont at Claremont Oval on Saturday.

The road to finals was looking clear when Peel finished the third quarter at an 11-point advantage, but the path quickly fogged when Claremont came out firing in the final term, finishing on 12.8 (80) to the Thunder’s 11.6 (72).

The Thunder’s Haydn Matthews said the close-call nature of the game was a upsetting aspect for the team.

“It was a disappointing result in the end to go down in a close game like that,” he said.

“We’d like to get over the line, but unfortunately we couldn’t, but I hope we get an opportunity next week to have a shot of making it to fifth for the finals.”

The first quarter started with the two teams mirroring and trailing scores until it ended on a three-point margin to Peel.

Matthews said coach Cam Shepherd was happy with them at quarter break, and offered valuable advice to get them out firing in the second term.

“[Cam told us to] keep playing how we were doing, stick to those structures and the way we want to play, getting forward to the big forwards as they were taking lots of marks, and lead to us getting a few goals which was good,” he said.

The Thunder responded in the second term with a flurry of goals from Hugh Dixon, Blair Bell, Luke Strnadica and Lloyd Meek; catapulting the team to a 23-point lead at half time.

Despite the high stakes and tension on the field, the third term resulted in Peel holding their lead, thanks to a goal by Brayden Lawler.

Matthews said Lawler’s form was of great value to the team.

“Brayden’s great, he does it week in, week out, his tackling pressures are what everyone values at the club and for him to hit the scoreboard as well is really valuable,” he said.

At the three-quarter break, coach Cam Shepherd stressed to the team the importance of the game with the Thunder’s season on the line, expecting his players to “come off this field exhausted.”

Unfortunately for Peel, the Tigers came out just as hungry, firing off four goals to one, to snatch the eight-point win.

Matthews said the Thunder’s eventual demise was a result of being out-run by the Tigers and lack of attack on his team’s side.

Peel Thunder face East Perth in a do-or-die game next week, with a win being absolutely vital in bumping them up to fifth place to play in the WAFL finals again this year.

Peel Thunder play East Perth on Saturday, August 25 at Bendigo Bank Stadium. Bounce down at 2.15pm.