Last-gasp loss leads to Thunder heartbreak

Monday, August 11, 2014 - 2:21 PM by Alex Paull

A GOAL on the siren from South Fremantle livewire Jarrod Pickett has resigned Peel to another heart-breaking one-point loss at Fremantle Oval on Saturday.

Despite leading at every change, Peel were unable to cling to what would have been a second consecutive away victory, with the Bulldogs booting a wayward 4.7 in the last quarter to steal the 13.17 (95) to 14.10 (94) win.

Peel suffered an early blow when Fremantle key position prospect Tanner Smith went down in the first quarter with a shoulder injury, but after leading by nearly five goals late in the second term, the Bulldogs closed the Peel lead to seven at half time.

The third term was evenly fought, with the Thunder booting three goals to two to stretch the margin to 10 at the final break.

The Bulldogs dominated large periods of the final term, but the scattergun approach on goal resulted in six straight behinds at one stage.

Tom Vandeleur looked to have sealed the win in the dying stages, but a mark to Pickett in the pocket and the subsequent checkside conversion on the siren left the Thunder heart broken.

The loss marked Michael Walters’ long-awaited return to the field, and he showed good signs with 19 touches and a goal, while Anthony Morabito, Brendon Jones and Jacob Ballard were outstanding in the midfield.

Kristin Thornton was lively up forward with 20 possessions, but wasted opportunities in front of goal, kicking 2.3 for the day.

Peel also welcomed its three WA Under 18 representatives into the side, and Brad Walsh, Dylan Winton and Ben Hancock all showed glimpses of their talent after making the step up from Colts the previous week.

Coaching his first game since re-signing with the Thunder, Cam Shepherd said while the players were heartbroken, he praised the players’ attitude at the contest.

The Thunder have been on both sides of the ledger, with a two-point win over Claremont, while the weekend’s loss mirrored that of an earlier one-point loss to reigning premiers West Perth.

“There was a real heartache after the game, and I was proud of the way we stood up, but we need to learn from these situations,” Shepherd said.

“We take on the fact that we learn from each of these experiences, and that makes us stronger, so we have to get our processes right and understand what we need to do better.”

Last weekend’s thrashing of Perth included 16 Fremantle players, while this week’s side included 12 Peel-based players, which Shepherd said pointed to a growing depth of talent at the club.

“It shows that we’re building our depth in our locals, and we’re not only doing that but understanding the way we want to play, so there’s great promise to come out of it,” Shepherd said.

Smarting from its second on-point loss of the year, the Thunder will look to exact revenge when it hosts West Perth at Bendigo Bank Stadium on Saturday.