Monday, March 10, 2014 - 4:00 PM

By: Alex Paull

PEEL Thunder has held off a fast-finishing Perth to win the first practice match of the season by four points in a low-scoring encounter at Bendigo Bank Stadium on Saturday.

The win marked the long-awaited return of Fremantle star and Peel product Anthony Morabito from injury, and the midfielder starred off half back in three quarters before given a rest for the final term.

After three serious knee injuries, Morabito said he pulled up well from the encounter, which was hisfirst game since 2012.

“I was excited to get through it, preparations were 18 months or so of trying to get to this point and it finally came,” he said.

“It’s just great to get through the first one unscathed.”

Peel dominated proceedings throughout the match, but while failing to capitalise on its dominance, the Thunder skipped out to a 34-point lead at three-quarter-time.

Perth booted six goals to one in the final quarter – including one in the dying seconds – but Peel had done enough to secure the victory.


With a large number of Dockers-listed players on the field, coach Cam Shepherd said while bringingessentially two groups together was a challenge, he was pleased by the way the players gelled as a group.

“We don’t walk away from the fact that we are bringing two groups together for a common cause,” Shepherd said.

“We embraced what we wanted to do for three quarters, and we weren’t as good as we wanted in the last.”

Shepherd said the focus of the hitout was to fine-tune the game plan and ensure that the players brought plenty of intensity to the contest. 

“We’re working on playing a hybrid, or similar style to what Ross Lyon has at Fremantle, so we’re working on structures, but really it’s based around intent and effort, so that was the pleasing thing for three quarters,” Shepherd said.

Kristin Thornton was a livewire up forward in the first half, booting three goals before half-time, including one after the siren, but Shepherd was impressed with the evenness of the display. 

“We had a good mix across the board with Moller, who was good in the ruck, and defensively Morabito and Alex Pearce were very good,” Shepherd said.

“Sam Menegola was good in the middle, Matt Brown did a good job across half forward, so it was a bit of amix.” 

Promising 17-year-olds Brad Walsh, Dylan Winton and Ben Hancock all contributed solid efforts, and Shepherd said the run with – and against – quality players would leave them in good stead. 

“Their games yesterday were pretty honest, I think it’s absolutely wonderful that we are able to play the young blokes with some quality players, and they’ve taken that opportunity,” he said.

All the players emerged from the match unscathed and ready to tackle South Fremantle next Saturday at Bendigo Bank Stadium in the final pre-season hit out before Round 1.