A lower-leg injury to midfielder Harley Bennell has soured Peel Thunder’s dominant 42-point victory over the Perth Demons in a wet affair at Mineral Resources Park.
The Thunder booted 10 goals to four after quarter time to run away winners 11.18 (84) to 6.6 (42).
Leading ball getter Bailey Banfield (32 disposals and 10 marks) said the team had to dig deep following Bennell’s injury.
“It’s always disheartening to see one of your brothers go down… but it was a really strong effort by the other 20 boys to really come through and play our game,” he said.
Bennell kicked the first goal of the game however his injury saw Perth capitalise and kick the last two goals of the first quarter.
At quarter time Thunder coach Cameron Sheppard called for composure inside forward 50 and lamented the sides tendency to bomb the ball rather than looking for a short target.
The Thunder responded strongly in the second term by having 21 inside 50s to six and kicking four of the five goals to wrestle back control and head in to half time with a 17-point lead.
Banfield said it was a matter of keeping the effort up and improving the skill level in order to get back in to the game.
“We’d been playing okay… we were able to keep chipping away and eventually we started to crack them, which was really important,” he said.
The third quarter saw the Thunder’s cleanliness in the rain prove vital as they opened up a 27-point lead.
Sheppard placed importance on Peel’s mental toughness heading in to the final term after being two men down for the majority of the day.
In the final quarter Peel had 24 marks to nine to stamp their control on the game and prevent any chance of a Perth comeback.
Inaccuracy in front of goal (3.5 in the last quarter) kept the margin from being even bigger, however Peel ran away 42-point winners.
The victory sees the Thunder snap a four-game losing streak dating back to round six and keeps them within a win of the top five.
Banfield said adjusting to the wet weather was vital in determining the outcome of the game.
“It’s always different when the rain starts coming down… it’s just who adapts better,” he said.
Along with Banfield, Lachie Schultz (23 disposals and a goal) and Scott Jones (30 hit-outs and a goal) had a strong influence on the game.
Forwards Hayden Ballantyne (2 goals) and Cameron McCarthy (1.3) were also dangerous, and made Perth pay for numerous errors in defensive 50.
The Thunder’s pressure stood out all day, winning the tackle count 79 to 78 despite having 17 more disposals as a team.
Peel Thunder face Swan Districts at Rushton Park on Saturday 29 June.