Livewire Dockers forward Michael Walters returned from a four-month injury lay-off in Peel's heartbreaking one-point defeat to South Fremantle at Fremantle Oval today.
Walters, who dislocated a tendon in his left ankle in round three, moved well in the forward line and finished with one goal from 19 possessions and three marks.
But it was likely first-round draft pick Jarrod Pickett who stole the show for South Fremantle in their 13.17 (95) to 14.10 (94) win.
Pickett bobbed up to kick two of the final four goals of the match - including one on the siren - to give the Bulldogs their second win in a row following last week's derby defeat of East Fremantle.
South had trailed by 28 points during the second quarter but ran out the game stronger than Peel, who were down a man for the majority of the contest after Dockers youngster Tanner Smith suffered an injury to his right shoulder inside the opening 10 minutes.
Dockers midfielder Anthony Morabito was one of Peel's strongest contributors in the first half as they took control of the contest, with Brendon Jones and Sam Menegola also influential.
Walters spent the first 20 minutes of the game on the bench but came to life early in the second quarter, kicking a goal from a clever snap shot and setting up another for teammate Kristin Thornton with a neat handpass.
The Thunder led by nearly five goals before half-time and kept their heads above water during a hard-fought third term.
Tempers boiled over on the three-quarter time siren after South Fremantle midfielder Haiden Schloithe appeared to be taken high but was not paid a free kick.
A melee started after Peel players got in the face of Scholithe, who had received several free kicks in similar circumstances throughout the day.
A South Fremantle fan was ejected after verbally remonstrating with the umpires during the break.
The hard-fought nature of the contest continued in the final term, with Peel holding a narrow 10-point advantage.
South Fremantle had several chances to narrow the gap, but failed to capitalise with a string shots at goal.
At the other end, goals to Sam Menegola and Josh Bootsma kept the visitors in control.
But the Bulldogs fought back in time-on, with goals to Pickett and Josh Pullman cancelling out Tom Vandeleur's major for Peel to see the home side over the line in a see-sawing final few minutes.
Pickett marked deep in the forward pocket and calmly slotted the winning goal with a well-executed checkside kick.
|GOALS - SOUTH FREMANTLE: Pickett, Schloithe, Martinez, Pullman 2; Kelly, B Verrier, S Verrier, Saunders, Sokol. PEEL: Thornton, Morabito, Brown, Menegola 2; Jones, Walters, Bootsma, Wood, Griffin, Vandeleur.|
BEST - SOUTH FREMANTLE: Kelly, Higgins, B Verrier, Schloithe, Bairstow, Parry. PEEL: Morabito, Jones, Ballard, Thornton, Menegola, Brown.