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Monday, July 17, 2017 - 7:59 PM
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The Thunder Development team were looking to back up on the road with another positive performance against East Perth at Medibank Stadium. The teams had met twice previously, with the Royals putting the Thunder to the sword in Round 1 only for Peel to return the favour in Round 7. Chris Wrigley was promoted to the League side to make his debut after a strong performance against West Perth. Chris’s promotion is a great story for all our players as he has worked hard on his game and certainly earned his opportunity. Brad Walsh was also promoted after a great game against the Falcons, while we welcomed back James Kirby, Noah Hura, Cameron Hayden-Quartermaine and Aaron Victor. Jaidon Kearing was also selected to make his debut. Only 18, Jaidon is a small forward/wing who has spent most of the year with the Colts- sitting 3rd on their goal kicking table.

East Perth started the stronger side but through a combination of their poor ball use, luck and our solid defending, Peel managed to weather the early storm to kick the first goal of the game through a Cameron H-Q snap, after some smart work from Brett Milward. The next 10 minutes of the quarter was a real arm wrestle with both sides wasting opportunities on goals. Brett Milward, again looking dangerous, finally finished off some good work up the ground to convert after taking a strong mark. East Perth answered almost immediately after a high tackle gave them a simple set shot before Luke Strnadica converted after the siren to give the Thunder a 12 point buffer at 1/4 time.

It was a similar story to start the 2nd, as East Perth locked the ball almost exclusively in their half but couldn't convert. Blustery conditions were making things tough but Peel once again found the goals first, through Zac Beckman. Zac, usually a dour defender, had to be moved forward due to a leg injury and he provided a first half highlight with an excellent snap late in the second. Peel kept the Royals goal-less in the 2nd and headed into half time with a 4 goal lead.

East Perth responded in the 3rd and whittled away the lead before a last minute goal gave the Royals a 2 point advantage heading into the last. It was a disappointing quarter for the Thunder where defensive lapses were exposed and East Perth finally took some chances. After Ajang Ajang converted from the goal square early in the last, the Royals had all the momentum. But as we’ve seen over the last month, the boys dug deep and at the 20 minute mark of the last quarter scores were tied. Over the last 8 minutes, both teams had opportunities to score but wasted them. East Perth streamed forward in the last minute only for Josh McMahon to take an excellent intercept mark surrounded by 4 East Perth players. Synonymous with the mind set of the group, he quickly moved the ball forward where the first gamer, Jaidon Kearing, tapped the ball over to Michael Humble who launched the ball inside 50 where Nick Merritt managed to scramble a kick to score and win the game with 20 seconds left. It was gutsy performance by the group in a game that could’ve gone either way.

Better performers on the day were Josh McMahon, who was back to his best with some resolute defending and intercept marking, Calvin Thorne, who had a real breakout game with 31 touches and 9 tackles and James Kirby, who gives us some much needed size around the ball and a strong work ethic. Luke Strnadica didn’t have it all his own way in the ruck but still gave our inside mids a decent look while finding the ball around the ground. Overall, it was quite a balanced performances with players standing up when they needed to. Nick Merritt and Brett Milward were lively up forward without quite finishing their work off. Special mentioned to Zac Beckman, able to push through with a leg injury, who managed 2 goals up forward and meant we weren’t down a rotation.

We now head back to Mandurah to take on the Lions in Round 18. Subiaco have had our measure both times we have met this season so it’ll be another stern test for the Thunder Development team. 

Written by - Senior Development Coach Brad Dodd