A passionate performance wasn’t enough to deliver Peel a crucial win on Saturday, with the Thunder going down to Claremont by two points at David Grays Arena.
Peel’s efforts kept them ahead until the half time, when an in-form Tigers took the ascendency to win 13.7 (85) to the Thunder’s 11.17 (83).
Despite four Peel stars receiving the call-up into the Fremantle squad this week, there was no shortage of Freo firepower with Cam McCarthy, Hayden Ballantyne, Hugh Dixon and Brett Bewley combining for six of the Thunder’s goals.
Fremantle recruit Dillon O’Reilly said the Thunder came into the game prepared to work hard.
“We had an inexperienced side and they’re second on the ladder, so we knew it would be a tough game, but we came out strong and gave a big effort,” he said.
Peel’s energy was too much for Claremont in the first term, with the Thunder heading into the first change with a 15-point lead.
By midway through the second quarter, the Thunder’s advantage had ballooned to 23-points before the Tigers got going and scored two quick goals to stay in the game.
Claremont struggled to move the ball forward after the break but made the most of their chances in front of goal to lead by 18-points at the final change.
Conversely, the Thunder were wasteful kicking 2.7 for the term.
O’Reilly said the Tigers’ charge to the lead had a simple explanation.
“They’re second on the ladder for a reason,” he said.
“I think their pressure had a big role in our inaccuracy.”
A goal from Bewley helped level the score in a nail-biting final term, but two Claremont behinds made all the difference as the siren sounded.
Travis Colyer and McCarthy shone throughout the close contest, snagging 26 disposals and six tackles respectively.
Peel’s efforts were aided this week by the addition of injured Freo Docker Alex Pearce, who helped coach the side’s defence.
O’Reilly said Pearce’s insight was invaluable.
“Each quarter break he’d come up to me and give me stuff to work on,” he said.
“He’s been really helpful, obviously a massive amount of experience and plenty to learn from him.”
As the squad turns their attention to next Saturday’s contest with third-placed South Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval from 2.15pm, O’Reilly said he’s hopeful of a win.
“If we could match it with these blokes for almost four quarters then South Freo should be a good game.”