Peel Thunder secures first WAFL premiership with victory over Subiaco Lions

Subiaco's Adam Cockie gathers the ball in the second term. Picture: Daniel Wilkins / The Sunday Times
Subiaco's Adam Cockie gathers the ball in the second term. Picture: Daniel Wilkins / The Sunday Times

AFTER 20 seasons in the WAFL, Peel Thunder has secured its first premiership with a 23-point victory over Subiaco on Sunday.

In a feisty contest at Subiaco Oval in front of more than 15,000 fans, Peel resisted multiple challenges from the Lions who were gunning for their third straight flag.

Connor Blakely (38 disposals) was crowned Simpson Medallist after running amok with Ed Langdon (39 disposals, 1 goal) in midfield, and Kyal Horsley (39 disposals, 2 goals) going toe to toe for much of the match.

Shane Yarran did the damage in front of goal for Peel, while Gerald Ugle chimed in with three as the Thunder overcame an inaccurate start.

The Thunder piled on the pressure early in the term, but were left to rue four consecutive minor scores when late inclusion Bradley Stevenson found himself in space to bag Subi the first of the game.

OPINION: If Peel Thunder win it’s the least their fans deserve

However, the Lions’ lead did not last long with Tendai Mzungu going back courageously with the flight before turning on a dime and banging through Peel’s first goal from the 50 metre mark.

Bodies continued to fly into the contest early as both sides searched for supremacy but it was the Thunder who converted.

Michael Apeness scored from the top of the square before Shane Yarran scored two against his old side as Peel established a four goal lead at the first change.

Subiaco were again first on the board in the second term courtesy of an astute snap from Clancy Wheeler, but Yarran replied three minutes later to maintain his side’s stranglehold on the match.

The ball seemed entranched in Peel’s attacking 50 with Subi valiantly denying the Thunder’s attempts to build on its lead.

Gerald Ugle managed to break through the resistance when he fleeced Jordan Lockyer near the goal square, snapping it through from point blank range to extend the margin 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 Kyle Horsley goal reduced the margin to 16-points.

Yarran kicked a steadier for Peel, but two minutes later Wayde Twomey hit back to keep the margin to 15-points at half time.

After the change, Peel were 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 defense 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.

However, as the teams headed into their huddles, tempers flared with a number of players sure to face sanctions after a melee.

Five minutes into the final term, Peel struck first after Ugle tackled well to earn a holding the ball free kick in the pocket, which he wobbled home.

With the margin at 23-points, a nasty head clash between Simpson medal contender Yarran and Aaron Heal seemed to change the mood for both sides with the tempo slowing momentarily.

The impressive Peel defense of Alex Silvagni, Ryan Nyhuis and Sam Collins continued to frustrate the Lions’ forward line as time became the enemy for Subiaco.

Ed Langdon made it 29-points the difference with a clinical snap with barely 10 minutes to go, leaving Peel in the box seat.

Chris Phelan grabbed a late consolation for Subiaco but it counted for little as Peel made history with a 11.13 (79) to 8.8 (56) win over Subiaco, claiming a maiden WAFL flag.