Bulldogs outlast undermanned Thunder

Monday, September 1, 2014 - 4:05 PM by Alex Paull

PEEL Thunder’s season has ended in disappointing fashion, losing to South Fremantle by 30 points at Fremantle Oval on Saturday.

The visitors sprung out of the blocks in the first term and held a 24-point lead at the first break, with the midfield controlling proceedings led by Brendon Jones.

But while the Thunder booted the opening four goals of the game, wasted opportunities would haunt them, and a score of 4.9 (33) at quarter time did not reflect the Thunder’s dominance, while leaving the door ajar for the Bulldogs.

The home side responded in the second quarter with four goals of their own while restricting the Thunder to a solitary major, and when Anthony Morabito limped off the ground with a knock to the knee, the momentum had swung the Bulldogs’ way.

The Thunder clung on to a two-point lead at half time, but the loss of Clancee Pearce to a heavy hit early in the third term helped the Bulldogs assert their dominance on the scoreboard, with three goals to one stretching the home side’s advantage to 15 at the final change.

The Thunder’s injury woes were hampered by Kepler Bradley hurting a hamstring early in the game, but the veteran battled on manfully and still managed a goal.

Despite being severely undermanned, the Thunder showed the determination and effort which has typified their performance this year, as the likes of Jones, Jacob Ballard and Matt DeBoer dragged the visitors back into the game.

Both sides traded goals early in the final term as the lead changed three times, and the Thunder had closed to within a goal approaching time-on, but the Bulldogs pulled away with a string of goals to seal the 30-point win.

Peel coach Cam Shepherd said the performance in the first term was some of the Thunder’s best football for the season, while inaccuracy prevented the visitors from establishing a bigger lead.

“That quite easily could have been seven or eight goals, so it was a very good start, but in the second quarter South Fremantle fought back into the contest and those missed opportunities did hurt,” Shepherd said.

“To the boys’ credit, their effort was really strong right up to the last five minutes, given we were without Anthony Morabito and Clancee Pearce for the majority of the second half.”

Shepherd said a different game style was required with an undermanned side, and the high-possession game plan saw the Thunder wrest back the lead late in the last term.

“We take great positives out of the game, I was really pleased with our strong effort, and I believe it leaves us in good stead for 2015.”

The Thunder will commemorate the 2014 season next Saturday night with the Tuckey Medal count at Bendigo Bank Stadium.