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Thunder strikes twice to win consecutive flags

Peel Thunder have secured back-to-back WAFL Premierships after a 16-point victory over Subiaco, as football bid farewell to Domain Stadium on Sunday.

A bruised and battered Thunder prevailed in a see-sawing contest on a drenched Domain Stadium turf, with torrential rain impacting play early before skies cleared in the second half.

The Thunder were a man down for the majority of the day with Zac Dawson sidelined after quarter time with an ankle injury.

Usually a defender, Dawson had a crucial impact early, kicking Peel’s opener and setting up Thunder captain Gerald Ugle for their second.

Defender Luke Ryan was awarded the Simpson Medal as the best on ground, cutting off Subiaco’s forward advances with nine marks and 21 kicks from his 23 disposals.

Danyle Pearce helped lead the Thunder in the middle with 25 disposals, collecting three tackles and three marks with the 179cm midfielder also recording a hitout.

Key forward Matt Taberner was crucial, kicking two goals and playing a hand in many more, including Taylin Duman’s final quarter goal that returned Peel to the lead for the first time since early in the third term.

Sean Darcy dominated the ruck with 73 hitouts, while Nick Suban battled in the middle with 15 tackles.

Ryan Nyhuis was crucial in defence with seven marks, keeping Subi livewire forward Liam Ryan at bay. While Ryan, the WAFL’s leading goal-kicker, was goalless for the day, Ben Sokol stepped up with four goals for the Lions.

The third term gave meaning to the moniker “premiership quarter” as Subiaco took the ascendency. 

Despite dominating play and taking the lead with the opening two goals of the term, the Lions couldn’t put the Thunder away – kicking six consecutive behinds and leaking two late goals to Josh Deluca and Taberner, seeing the Lions’ lead cut to three points at the final break.

With the breeze at the Thunder’s backs in the final term, Peel took hold of the contest with three of the opening four goals. 

Leroy Jetta put the Thunder up for good with a perfectly executed check side set shot from the right forward pocket, and Tommy Sheridan replicated the effort minutes later to stretch Peel’s lead to 11 points.

Griffin Logue set off the jubilant scenes, with his set shot on goal sailing through right on the siren.

Speaking to Channel 7 post-game, Taberner said the Thunder were eager to send off retiring players Dawson and Garrick Ibbotson in style.

“We were always going to get tested against a strong Lions side, we focused as a group and put in a great finals series and put a lot of hard work in,” Taberner said.

“This is what it’s all about, I missed out last year and this is a totally different group. 

“We were all really driven and eager to finish off well. We were farewelling a few great players and we wanted to honour that with effort and finish strong.” 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs