Peel Thunder's remarkable journey from WAFL Women's wooden spooners to premiers in the space of 12 months is complete after they earned a hard fought Grand Final victory against Subiaco at Provident Financial Oval on Saturday afternoon.
The Joondalup venue played host to the WAFLW Grand Final of 2020 featuring a Subiaco team who has finished on top of the ladder in both seasons of the competition and were trying to get rewarded while Peel was looking to keep its dramatic rise.
The Thunder won just one game in 2019 to claim the wooden spoon and then they still had to win their final home and away season game in 2020 at home to Claremont to even make the finals.
But they did that and ended up in second spot, and then turned around the result from the second semi-final against Subiaco after beating East Fremantle in the preliminary final to dominate Saturday's Grand Final and win, 4.4 (28) to 2.1 (13).
With experienced goal machine Kira Phillips and 15-year-old Margaret River sensation Ella Roberts up front, the defence rock solid led by Demi Liddle and Ebony Dowson, and then Abby Barnden in the ruck with a strong support cast, the Thunder were just unstoppable on Grand Final day.
Roberts ended up kicking two goals for the Thunder after taking two strong contested marks. It's remarkable to think she has done what she has in 2020 while still aged 15 and travelling to and from Margaret River.
The league's leading goalkicker Kira Phillips also kicked another goal for Peel while directly setting up another for Bailey Molloy.
Chloe Wrigley was named best afield and won the Lou Knitter Medal.
Ebony Bilcich became another fascinating story winning a WAFLW premiership to continue her football rise while being a standout basketballer at the South West Slammers and following the footsteps of dad Stephen who played 215 games and won three premierships with East Fremantle.
Both Subiaco's goals came courtesy of Maggie MacLachlan with captain Hayley Miller and vice-captain Tiah Haynes tireless workers for the Lions against the tide.
The Joondalup venue is famous for its windy conditions and it was no different for the WAFLW Grand Final on Saturday afternoon and it was Subiaco who had the advantage of that breeze behind them in the first term.
As a result, the Lions did all the attacking early and went on to kick the first goal of the Grand Final thanks to Maggie MacLachlan at the five-minute mark.
While Subiaco continued to attack, Peel's back-line held up well the rest of the opening quarter and didn’t even concede another score.
The Thunder's forays forward might have been rare but when they did get it inside-50, they managed to get a goal of their own courtesy of Kira Phillips and even went into quarter-time leading by a solitary point.
Then just a minute into the second term and exciting 15-year-old young superstar Ella Roberts slotted a terrific goal with the breeze behind her as the Thunder began to assert their authority on the Grand Final.
It did take 10 more minutes for another goal but Phillips produced a clever kick to the top of the goal square from the pocket where Bailey Molloy took the mark. She went back to kick the goal and the Thunder's lead grew to 13 points.
Then minutes later and the teenage excitement machine Roberts took another strong contested mark and kicked her second goal of the Grand Final as the Thunder's advantage grew to 19 points.
Peel would take that 18-point advantage into half-time with Subiaco needing to find something in the third term to keep their premiership hopes alive.
Once again though with the likes of Demi Liddle and Ebony Dowson outstanding in chopping off Subiaco's attacks inside-50 and Peel's back-line stood tall to deny the Lions at virtually every opportunity.
Again the breeze made it difficult for Peel to get it forward in the third term but Subiaco couldn’t quite close the gap as much as the Lions would have liked. They did get one goal back at the four-minute mark when MacLachlan marked and converted for her second goal of the Grand Final.
But the Lions couldn’t manage to find another goal with the breeze and the Thunder still held a 14-point advantage by three quarter-time.
There might have been sunshine during the third quarter at Joondalup but by the start of the fourth quarter the breeze had picked up even more and the clouds had rolled in.
With the now virtual gale force winds making life difficult in the last quarter for both teams, there was just the one score and that was a behind for Peel with the Thunder going on to secure the 4.4 (28) to 2.1 (13) victory.
That completed the remarkable fairytale story of Peel coming from last in 2019 to premiers in 2020 while for Subiaco, it's a second straight year of heartbreak in the WAFLW competition after claiming the minor premiership in both seasons.
The day at Provident Financial Oval began with the Simply Energy Rogers Cup Grand Final for the Youth Girls, and it was South Fremantle who prevailed to defeat Peel Thunder 8.4 (52) to 1.4 (10) and claim the premiership for 2020.
And then in the WAFLW Reserves Grand Final also at Provident Financial Oval, Claremont defeated East Fremantle to claim the premiership.
OPTUS WAFL WOMEN'S PREMIERSHIP SEASON – GRAND FINAL
PEEL THUNDER 1.1 4.1 4.3 4.4 (28)
SUBIACO 1.0 1.1 2.1 2.1 (13)
PEEL THUNDER: Goals – Roberts 2; Molloy, Phillips.
Best – Wrigley, Dowson, McKinley, Barnden, Roberts, Liddle.
SUBIACO: Goals – MacLachlan 2.
Best – Haynes, Miller, MacLachlan, Stannett, Dowrick, Thomas.
LOU KNITTER MEDAL: Chloe Wrigley (Peel Thunder)