By Daniel Weatherhead
Peel Thunder have won their first WAFL grand final in front of more than 15,000 fans.
The majority of Peel players had AFL experience with Fremantle, which helped them to a four-goal lead at the end of a tough first quarter at Domain Stadium.
But the Thunder players were wasteful in front of goal and could have had a much bigger lead.
Tendai Mzungu had the honour of kicking Peel’s first ever major in a grand final – a feat he also managed with AFL club Fremantle in 2013, while Ed Langdon and Josh Deluca were important off half-back.
Subiaco rallied in the second term and put the Thunder defence under some serious pressure. By half-time, the Lions had reduced the margin to 15 points.
In the third term, Subiaco looked set to reel the Thunder in, as they dominated large periods of play and reduced the lead to less than two goals. But the Lions’ hard work was undone when Peel’s Shane Yarran scored his fifth goal after a quick transition from Peel.
Tempers flared at the final break, with players engaging in a massive melee and the coaches getting involved.
The match was sealed when Peel captain Gerard Ugle slotted his third for the Thunder, just five minutes into the final quarter.
Connor Blakely was awarded the Simpson Medal after picking up 38 possessions and taking five marks, while midfielders Matt de Boer and Tendai Mzungu also picked up more than 30 possessions.
Veteran midfielder Rory O’Brien said Blakely was a gifted player.
“Yeah Connor is fantastic, he is definitely going to take the AFL by storm,” O’Brien said.
“To play alongside him and win a premiership with him is fantastic.”
O’Brien said he was ecstatic to finally win a premiership.
“It is absolutely surreal, it’s fantastic. Obviously, I have had my fair share of wooden spoons,” he said.
Ugle said he could not contain his excitement.
“Words can’t describe how I am feeling right now,” Ugle said.
“To be fortunate enough to be captaining a good side like we had out there today. I was appointed captain at a good time.”
Peel Thunder becomes the first team to win a grand final from fourth position since Claremont in 1964.