Peel have posted just their third victory of 2014, holding on to claim a thrilling two-point win over Claremont at Bendigo Bank Stadium this afternoon.
The 11.8 (74) to 9.8 (72) triumph came despite the Thunder managing just one point in the first quarter and ended the Tigers’ run of two straight wins this season.
Boasting 15 Fremantle-listed players, Peel produced an outstanding five-goal second term, which included a brilliant cameo from Dockers’ rookie Michael Wood, while Claremont kept coming, booting five goals to two in the last quarter to almost steal the points.
Matt de Boer was a tireless worker in the engine room in his third game back from a knee injury with 31 disposals, and was ably supported by Jacob Ballard (33 touches, six inside 50s and a goal).
Ryan Neates gathered a game-high 37 possessions, while Trinity Handley finished with three goals, including two in the last term.
The Tigers suffered a huge pre-game blow when the competition’s in form midfielder Luke Blackwell pulled out with a groin problem, allowing Tom Ledger to play his first league game since round nine.
Fremantle forward Scott Gumbleton also didn’t line up for Peel, with all three Dockers emergencies Hayden Crozier, Matt Taberner and Alex Pearce all took their places.
But Taberner played limited game time in a sign he will be insurance against GWS at Patersons Stadium tomorrow.
Former Saint Ledger took advantage of his late reprieve with a lively first quarter, gathering nine possessions and booting the first goal from outside 50m.
The visitors dominated a sloppy Peel outfit, who managed just one scoring shot for the term, but didn’t put them away on the scoreboard, booting a wasteful 2.8 to take a 19-point advantage.
An expected hero emerged for the Thunder after the break with the lightly-built Wood stepping up and booting four majors in a five goal to one second term as his side hit the front for the first time.
A crisp Edward Dann pass found Wood in space for Peel’s first major of the game, and then Crozier found the 20-year-old shortly after for two in a row.
Claremont were then able to wrestle back control and start holding the ball down their end of the ground, but managed just one goal from six straight scoring points.
De Boer then helped the Thunder start to dominate the clearances, with Kepler Bradley adding his first and Wood his third to draw within five points.
Wood then took a big grab right in front and converted as Peel stole the lead just before the half-time siren.
Peel continued to press in the third term and this time it was forgotten Fremantle forward Max Duffy who stepped up to kick two classy goals, with Crozier also making a tough shot from the boundary.
A strong mark and goal from Trinity Handley up the other end helped the visitors stay within touching distance at the final change.
Bradley injured a right hamstring in the dying minutes of the third term and sat off with it iced from that point on.
Claremont got the all important first goal of the last quarter when Ledger converted a set shot to bring it back to a 13-point margin at the six-minute mark.
Peel had plenty of the ball but couldn’t land the killer blow before a snap from Handley brought the Tigers to within seven points.
But when Dann was the beneficiary of a down-the-ground free kick and slotted it from the pocket, the Claremont surge looked to have been snuffed out.
However, Claremont kept coming and came within a point when Handley snapped his third at the 29-minute mark.
Earlier, former Carlton youngster Josh Bootsma made a low-key return to football in the Peel reserves.
The 21-year-old gathered 10 disposals off the half backline after moving home after he was sacked by the Blues last month for inappropriate use of social media.
His original club South Fremantle allowed him to transfer to the Mandurah club to be closer to his family.
|GOALS - PEEL: Wood 4; Duffy 2; Bradley, Ballard, Crozier, Dann, Sheridan. CLAREMONT: Handley 3; Ledger, Hamp 2; Taylor, McGovern.|
BEST - PEEL: De Boer, Ballard, Dann, Wood, Pearce. CLAREMONT: Ledger, Neates, Taylor, Hamp, Bradshaw.