Peel goes back-to-back in cracking Grand Final to farewell SubiSunday, September 24, 2017 - 6:33 PM - by Chris Pike
IT was only fitting that a cracking contest and a good crowd despite the terrible early weather took place to farewell Subiaco Oval with Peel Thunder making it back-to-back WAFL premierships beating Subiaco by 16 points on Sunday.
Despite the heavy rain that fell earlier in the day particularly during the Reserves Grand Final and then in the first half of the league decider between the Thunder and Lions, it was a credit to the crowd of 18,180 who turned out to celebrate the farewell to football at Subiaco Oval.
The crowd is the biggest for the WAFL Grand Final since West Perth beat East Perth in 2013.
The Grand Final was a rematch of last year's decider when Peel made history with the club's first ever premiership and it was always going to be a ferocious contest with the Thunder looking to continue to make history and the Lions trying to win a third premiership in the last four years.
Peel started well leading by as much as 13 points in the first half but Subiaco got going to the start the second half as the weather cleared to hit the front for the first time.
That saw the lead change four times in the second half but when Peel hit the front on a terrific snap from Leroy Jetta at the 13-minute of the last quarter, the Thunder would not again surrender the advantage.
Peel went on to win the Grand Final 11.6 (72) to 7.14 (56) to make it back-to-back premierships and to leave Subiaco with two flags from four Grand Finals and three minor premierships over the past four years.
In many ways Subiaco dominated a lot of areas of the game finishing with 75 more disposals than Peel, 21 extra inside-50 entries and 21 scoring shots to 17. But much of what the Lions did was under great pressure highlighted by them only taking 50 marks to 72 from the Thunder. Tackling from both teams was a feature with Subiaco laying 97 and Peel 81.
Captain Gerald Ugle, Rory O'Brien, Brayden Lawler, Blair Bell, Nick Suban, Josh Deluca, Sam Collins and Ryan Nyhuis are the players to have taken part in both Peel's premiership triumphs now.
It is three WAFL premierships now for Suban and Deluca as well who previously won a flag with Claremont in 2011 and Subiaco in 2014 respectively.
One player who became a premiership player for the first time was Luke Ryan with the Fremantle-listed defender awarded the Simpson Medal after finishing with 23 possessions and nine marks.
First-year ruckman Sean Darcy was a remarkable presence ending up with a Grand Final record 73 hit outs to go with nine disposals and eight tackles.
Matt Taberner worked hard up forward to provide a target in a terrific duel with Jordan Lockyer. He ended up with two goals from 11 touches and seven marks.
Leroy Jetta and Tom Sheridan also kicked two goals each for the Thunder.
Danyle Pearce showed all his 255 games of AFL experience with a strong showing to win his first WAFL premiership finishing with 25 disposals and eight entries inside the forward 50.
Traye Bennell crossed from South Fremantle to Peel early last year and is now a premiership player as a result finishing with 20 possessions while O'Brien survived the nervous wait for his wife Ebony to give birth to their third child to win his second flag.
The 247-game, five-time fairest and best winning Sandover Medallist had a big influence too with 19 possessions, four tackles and four inside 50s.
Cameron Sutcliffe also had 16 possessions and seven tackles, Deluca 16 disposals, four tackles and a goal, and Brennan Cox 15 touches and 22 hit outs helping out Darcy in the ruck.
Suban might have not had a huge influence offensively but his pressure with 15 tackles was phenomenal while Lawler laid 10 tackles across half-forward.
Meanwhile, Nyhuis did a superb job defensively shutting down Subiaco's Bernie Naylor Medallist Liam Ryan. He held him scoreless and to seven kicks while having 11 kicks and seven marks himself.
Chris Phelan, Kyal Horsley and Leigh Kitchin are remarkably tough and consistent performers in Subiaco's midfield and couldn’t have possibly done more to try and lift the Lions over the line.
Phelan was playing his first league game since suffering a knee injury in Round 10 and the 151-game dual premiership and fairest and best winner showed all his quality with 30 possessions, five inside 50s and a goal.
Captain Horsley had yet another superb Grand Final with 32 disposals, seven tackles and seven inside 50s while Kitchin contributed 26 touches and eight tackles.
Ben Sokol was the star up forward for Subiaco kicking four goals while Clancy Wheeler booted two.
Angus Litherland did well defensively holding Leroy Jetta to four kicks while having 17 possessions himself with Aaron Heal keeping Blair Bell scoreless.
Lachlan Delahunty did what he could in the ruck finishing with 19 touches and 18 hit outs while Liam Baker had 19 disposals, Corey Adamson 19, Wayde Twomey 18, Justin Joyce 17 (eight tackles), Scott Hancock 17 (seven tackles) and Jordan Lockyer 17.
Peel made the perfect start in their premiership defence with the retiring Zac Dawson kicking the first goal of the game. That would be his only kick of the day before he succumbed to an ankle injury.
But Dawson's only handpass came at the 10-minute mark to set up Gerald Ugle and Peel had the opening two majors.
Subiaco got on the board shortly after when Ben Sokol booted his first of the day but the Thunder responded thanks to Matt Taberner to open a 13-point lead.
Things tightened up for the rest of the quarter as the rain bucketed down on Subiaco Oval but the Lions did get a late goal with a good snap from the boundary by Clancy Wheeler to be within five points at the first break.
A clever snap in congestion on his left boot from Leroy Jetta again gave Peel a good start to the second term but Subiaco responded by the 11-minute mark through Sokol to close within four points.
Tom Sheridan reclaimed a 10-point advantage shortly after for the reigning premiers but the Lions ensured they were just three points down at the main break after Sokol booted a third goal from another rock-solid set shot.
The weather fined up after half-time setting the stage for a cracking contest between the two best contested ball and defensive teams in the competition. It was Subiaco who started well when the returning Chris Phelan continued his stunning comeback with a great goal from 50.
That put the Lions in front for the first time in the Grand Final and that lead grew to nine points when Sokol nailed his fourth as well.
The Lions were completely on top for virtually the whole quarter but just couldn’t kick straight and their lead grew to 13 points but only courtesy of behinds.
That came back to bite them with Peel getting back within seven points when a hobbled Josh Deluca snapped truly and then just one-point when Taberner kicked straight.
Subiaco kicked another couple of behinds before three quarter-time to be up by three points at the last change and that inaccuracy of the third term would prove costly.
Peel regained the lead to start the fourth term when Taylin Duman ran into in an open goal onto a terrific pass to soccer it through. But Subiaco responded through Wheeler to put the Lions back in front by three points.
That set the stage for a brilliant finish with the weather having cleared up and Peel hit the front once more with a trademark snap from Jetta after he earned a holding the ball free-kick on Corey Adamson in the pocket.
Subiaco just couldn’t find a way through Peel's defence in the last 15 minutes of the game and Peel secured the win when Sheridan nailed one from the boundary.
Lachlan Delahunty marked 40m out for Subiaco with 23 minutes on the clock but he elected to handpass to Adam Cockie. The 100-gamer kicked it out on the full to keep the margin 11 points with time running out for the Lions.
A goal to Griffin Logue on the siren was only icing on the cake for the 16-point win to give Peel back-to-back premierships in what was a superb Grand Final to farewell Subiaco Oval.
PEEL THUNDER 3.1 5.4 7.4 11.6 (72)
SUBIACO 2.2 4.7 6.13 7.14 (56)
PEEL THUNDER Goals: Sheridan, Jetta, Taberner 2; Logue, Duman, Deluca, Ugle, Dawson.
Best: Darcy, Ryan, Nyhuis, Suban, Pearce, O'Brien, Taberner.
SUBIACO Goals: Sokol 4; Wheeler 2; Phelan.
Best: Horsley, Kitchin, Phelan, Sokol, Litherland, Heal, Baker.
SIMPSON MEDAL: Luke Ryan (Peel Thunder)