Thunder Reigns! Peel wins 2020 Grand Final

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - 11:05 AM by Owen Davies

Started from the bottom, now they're here.

Peel Thunder have completed their historic turnaround by taking home the 2020 WAFLW Premiership after defeating Subiaco in windy conditions at Provident Financial Oval on Saturday afternoon.

The disappointment of a one-win campaign last season has become a distant memory, as from the opening game of the season against Swan Districts you could see a dramatic change and something building week on week, ultimately culminating with the ultimate success for the Thunder on Saturday.

Despite this drastic change in performance nothing was ever guaranteed, with the Thunder still requiring a victory in the final round of the season just to secure their finals place. Victory against Claremont set up a 2nd Semi showdown with Subiaco, who after getting bundled out of finals in straight sets in 2019 were looking to stamp their authority on the competition when it mattered most. The Lions got the better of Peel on a wet afternoon at Leederville, but after besting last-seasons Premiers East Fremantle in the Preliminary Final, the Thunder would not be denied, as outside of the opening 10 minutes, they dominated the Grand Final restricting Subi to their lowest score of the year to take the Premiership Cup back to Mandurah winning 4.4 (28) to 2.1 (13).

Windy conditions have been a factor in almost every game in the past month and Saturday was no exception. Subiaco having first crack with the wind at their backs and it certainly showed early as they dominated the early stages of the game and kicked the first goal of the game through Maggie MacLachlan 5 minutes into the contest. The Thunder defense managed to withstand the early pressure with Demi Liddle, Tanisha Anderson and Ebony Dowson all contributing to ensure the Lions remained scoreless for the rest of the term. At the other end, opportunities were few and far between, but as was the case against the Sharks a week prior, the league’s leading goal kicker Kira Phillips delivered, pulling one back for the Thunder against the run of play and the wind giving the Thunder a quarter-time lead.

After enduring the early onslaught, the Thunder grew in confidence and in the second term used the wind to their full advantage. No one exudes confidence more than Ella Roberts, the 15-year-old revelation from Margaret River, who kicked two goals in the second and caused the Subiaco defense headaches all afternoon. Bailey Molloy kicked one after being set up by Kira Phillips, and the Thunder took an 18-point advantage into half-time, putting massive scoreboard pressure on the Lions.

Even with the wind, Subiaco still couldn’t make any in-roads in the third term, with the Thunder defense standing strong. The Lions did manage to get one back MacLachlan kicking her second for the game but with the conditions worsening and a 14-point deficit to make up in at the final change it was going to take an outstanding performance to deny the Thunder.

The Lions threw everything they had at the Thunder early in the fourth but gained no ground on the scoreboard. With a Peel victory assured the sting of the game petered out in the second half of the term as the Thunder only added a solitary behind to their final total capturing the flag by 15-points. 

In a complete team performance with everyone playing their role, it would have been hard pressed to come up with a winner of the Lou Knitter Medal for the best player a field. Chloe Wrigley might not be the flashiest player and spent time playing in the reserves last season, but she has been instrumental in the team’s turnaround from League easy beat to Premiers. All season she provided grunt by laying tackles, winning the hard ball and getting clearances. Once again, she showcased all of these attributes on Saturday and was one of the most influential players when the game was on the line and was more than worthy to be named best on ground.

Kira Phillips delivered on the big occasion with that key first quarter goal setting up the victory. Phillips ends her season with 17-goals from 10 games. 

Ebony Bilcich one of the few new additions to the League side from 2019 after coming up from South Bunbury was another key player in the victory getting the ball forward and giving the Thunder better field position from stoppages early in the game when the ball was locked in the defensive half.

Demi Liddle, Ebony Dowson and Tanisha Anderson were all rock solid in defense from the opening bounce and once again be proud to have kept a side that have at times looked unstoppable this season to only two goals.

Abby Barnden led from the front in the ruck, providing first use and following up with her renowned tackling pressure.

Finally, it would be remiss to not make mention of Ella Roberts, who after making a superb debut in Round 4 against Claremont has been a mainstay of the League side and has been one of the final pieces of the puzzle. She once again amazed on Saturday, kicking 2 goals, while taking strong contested marks and match-up problems throughout the game. With the instant impact she has made, it’s hard to believe she has done it all before turning 16 and has had to travel up from Margaret River.






2.1 (13)





4.4 (28)

Goals – Roberts 2; Molloy, Phillips.
Best – Wrigley, Dowson, McKinley, Barnden, Roberts, Liddle.
LOU KNITTER MEDAL: Chloe Wrigley (Peel Thunder)

Earlier in the day the Rogers Cup side couldn't repeat the dose and go back to back to back as they succumbed to a powerful South Fremantle for the third time in 2020, going down 8.4 (52) to 1.4 (10).

South Fremantle started strongly and had the wind at their back to open proceedings, managing two goals in the opening term while the Thunder could only manage a single behind.

The Thunder responded in the second term, holding South's to two behinds while adding their lone goal for the afternoon through Jordain Thompson, a soccer off the ground from the goal square. 

Going in less than a goal down at half-time the Thunder were hopeful to get off to a fast start in the third and peg another goal back to give themselves a massive chance with the wind behind them in the last. Unfortunately South Fremantle had other ideas adding two goals to no score for the quarter, giving the Thunder a massive task in the last.

The Thunder could never get the ascendency or a foothold in the game unfortunately and once South Fremantle kicked the opening goal midway through the quarter the floodgates opened as they piled on 4 late goals to seal victory and win the Premiership at the second attempt.

Nel Baxter and Bella Mann worked tirelessly through the middle while Jade Calley and Beth Schilling both tried hard in defence while under a lot of pressure.

The Thunder now look to 2021, which bodes to be a different season for the Rogers Cup team with some new faces coming in as a number of players make the transition to senior football. 






8.4 (52)





1.4 (10)

Goals – J. Thompson
Best – Baxter, Calley, Schilling, Mann