Peel Hold on in a Thriller

Monday, July 14, 2014 - 2:33 PM by Alex Paull

DESPITE being goalless at quarter time, Peel has hit back to claim their third win of the season with an thrilling two-point victory over Claremont at Bendigo Bank Stadium on Saturday.

Led by a scintillating four-goal second term from Fremantle rookie Michael Wood, the Thunder showed great resilience to force its way back into the match after a slow start, before withholding a spirited fight back from the visitors to run out 11.8 (74) to 9.18 (72) winners.

Chasing their third win on the trot, the Tigers suffered a major blow before the opening bounce with Sandover Medallist Luke Blackwell a late withdrawal, but they still dominated early proceedings without capitalising on the scoreboard. 

The Thunder were reduced to a solitary point at quarter time, before Wood entered the fray in sparkling fashion, booting four goals as the home side stole a one-point lead at half time.

A lightly built youngster, Wood has been used in a number of roles this year and Peel coach Cam Shepherd said he was impressed by Wood’s work with veteran Docker Kepler Bradley.

“He’s been playing on a wing and in the backline and we threw him forward and he repaid the faith nicely by kicking those four goals, and he finished the game off strong as well,” Shepherd said.

Wood was the beneficiary of some fine execution from Eddie Dann and Hayden Crozier, while a big grab and subsequent conversion before half time secured the lead going into the long break.

Max Duffy helped stretch the Thunder’s lead in the third with two goals, as the home side’s efficiency began to tell in the tight encounter, as the lead stretched out to 19 points at the final change.

Claremont started the final term strongly, converting the first major before Dann steadied the ship with his first courtesy of a downfield free kick.

But despite dominating possession, Peel couldn’t ice the game and a third goal from Trinity Handley with a minute to go brought the Tigers back to within a point, but the visitors comeback was in vain.

Dann was moved into the forward line to add some class, and Shepherd said the Rockingham product’s consistency since the bye had been a major catalyst for the side’s solid recent form.

“We played him in defence which he wasn’t accustomed to in the first half of the year and he was giving us great drive, but when we weren’t getting much efficiency up forward, he moved down there and with his clean skills, he’s very exciting,” Shepherd said.

While the Thunder’s lacklustre opening quarter was disappointing, Shepherd said the form reversal was very pleasing.

“We didn’t take our opportunities early, but our reversal was definitely a step in the right direction,” he said.

“It shows a bit of resilience, which is fantastic to see from a young group.

“We’ve had three wins from six games, and apart from last week against East Perth, we’ve had chances, so we’re definitely moving in the right direction.

The Thunder has another tough assignment when they face East Fremantle at East Fremantle Oval next Saturday.

Photo Credit; Mandurah Mail