Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 10:21 AM by Alex Paull
FOR the second time this season Peel Thunder has fallen just short of beating reigning premiers West Perth, with the Falcons prevailing by nine points in a thriller at Bendigo Bank Stadium on Saturday.
Nothing separated the two sides in the first half, with both quarter time and half time scores tied in a low-scoring encounter, and while West Perth had 15 premiership players at its disposal, it was the young brigade of Michael Apeness and Jacob Ballard who were influential for the Thunder.
The Falcons pounced on a number of errors in the third term, booting four goals to two, which proved the difference in the low-scoring 9.14 (68) to 8.11 (59) win.
Apeness in particular was a strong focal point for the Thunder with 15 disposals, 10 marks and two goals, but experienced Falcons defender Dan Hunt subdued the young forward in the final term.
The visitors took a 10 point lead into three quarter time, but Michael Wood bobbed up to kick the first goal of the last quarter to reduce the lead to under a kick.
But the Falcons managed to hold off the Thunder and emerged triumphant despite booting a wasteful 1.6 in the last term.
For the Thunder, Ballard was again outstanding with 25 disposals, while Anthony Morabito put his hand up for a Fremantle recall with 26 touches and a goal.
Brendon Jones also reminded onlookers why he should play on next year, racking up 24 disposals in another consistent display.
Peel coach Cam Shepherd remained buoyant despite the loss, and he was pleased with the effort from the players.
“We kept fighting on and while it’s disappointing to lose to a really good side, we’re pleased with the effort the boys showed and while there is still plenty of improvement, we take a lot of positive things out of it,” Shepherd said.
“In close games against strong opposition, it only takes a couple of minor slip-ups, and unfortunately that happened in the third quarter.
“We’ve shown that we’re a competitive unit, but the next test will be to turn these close defeats into wins in 2015, and that’s a challenge we look forward to.”
Shepherd said while the side has a heavy Fremantle flavour, it is still a young and evolving side, and the likes of Ballard and Apeness attested to that.
“We’ve played 51 players this year, 26 of whom are Fremantle-listed players, so while there is that expectation, we recognise we’re still a young side and the future looks bright,” Shepherd said.
“They’re keen to learn and they have shown they are learning, and while we want the results to go our way we think we’re on the right path and we shouldn’t be too frustrated.”
A massive challenge awaits the Thunder next week, with the ladder-leaders East Perth visiting Bendigo Bank Stadium.