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WAFL: Peel falls short

Harley Bennell finished with 30 disposals and two goals in the five-point loss on Saturday night. Watch the highlights from the clash between Peel and West Perth

Peel Thunder endured a five-point loss to the West Perth Falcons at HBF Arena on Saturday.

The suspenseful final minutes of the round seven clash saw the Falcons kick the deciding goal from a 50-metre penalty with a final score of 12.6 (78) 11.7 (73).

After missing a year of football with repetitive calf injuries, Harley Bennell made a shining return in the midfield with 30 disposals and two goals.

Fremantle midfielder Lachlan Schultz said Bennell was a terrific asset to the midfield.

“It’s like he hasn’t missed a beat to have him back out there in the park is a massive step forward for the club,” he said.

But Bennell’s impressive return couldn’t quite get the Thunder over the line.

Opening the game with strong intent, Peel’s domination in the ruck, tight defence and unrelenting intensity in the midfield had West Perth’s backline under siege for the first half of the match.

Pressure on the Falcons from midfielders Stefan Giro and Travis Coyler resulted in several clearances and two goals for Schultz in the second term to increase Peel’s lead.

Having spent the last three games in the reserves to get more time in the centre circle, emerging ruckman Lloyd Meek marked his first game back in the league with two goals and 27 hit outs.

While Scott Jones also had strong influence in the ruck with 33 hit outs.

Despite the Thunder winning the first half, six goals to three, the Falcons came in with strong intent in the third term with a lead change and a margin of 16 points entering the final quarter.

Schultz said a combination of the opposition’s physical forward line and Peel’s incomplete tackles were what lost them the third quarter.

“We were slow to react, and the floodgates opened a little bit,” he said.

“Our tackles were down in the third quarter and we missed a few as well, so it was about putting that pressure on the ball carrier and trying to limit their use of the ball.

“We got it back in our terms [but] a couple of mistakes at the end of the game cost us when we tried to save the game.”

After stern words from coach Cam Shepherd at three quarter time, the Thunder took to the final term intending to strike to back.

Peel hit the lead once again, continuing pressure in the backline and laying consecutive stoppages on the Falcons forward line.

But, with one point in it and a 50-metre penalty awarded to West Perth in the final minutes the Thunder’s fate was decided.

Schultz said despite the loss there were a lot of positive takeaways for the young team.

“A lot of young teams once you’re on top of them they shut off a bit so for us to be able to come back and get the game back on our terms and hit the lead again that’s a big positive for us,” he said.

Preparing for a rematch against Subiaco next week, Schultz said the Thunder had reviewed their last game and planned to come out stronger.

“Last time we played we were pretty slow in the midfield,” he said.

“We got smashed in the stoppages and clearances so we will learn from that game and take our learnings from that and play a better game.”

Peel are set to take on Subiaco at Rushton Park next Sunday 2 June.

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