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Second Semi-Final Preview - Subiaco v Peel ThunderSaturday, September 9, 2017 - 12:34 PM - by Chris Pike

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A WAFL Grand Final spot goes on the line on Sunday at Leederville with the dominant team of the past four years Subiaco hosting the reigning premiers Peel Thunder who has won five consecutive finals.

It shapes as a fascinating contest whatever way you look at it with Subiaco coming into the game having dominated the home and away season with 19 straight wins before the bye last week.

But it was last Saturday when Peel showed it is a genuine chance at back-to-back premierships with a strong 18-point victory over a South Fremantle team who had won nine straight games to finish season.

That win at Fremantle Community Bank Oval showed that the Thunder have the talent and motivation to back up last year's stunning performance that saw them comfortably beat East Perth, West Perth, South Fremantle and Subiaco on the way to a maiden premiership.

So now this Sunday at Leederville Oval will feature the rematch from last year's Grand Final that saw Peel beat Subiaco by 23 points.

In the three meetings during the season between the two teams, Subiaco beat Peel by 13 points at Leederville Oval in Round 4, by four points in Round 11 at Bendigo Bank Stadium and then emphatically by 46 points in Round 18 also in Mandurah.

Those wins over Subiaco will give Peel some confidence to take into Sunday's clash, but it is a vastly different Thunder team once again come finals time and it's hard to imagine whoever ends up winning will be anything but raging premiership favourites.

The winner of the second semi-final on Sunday will advance straight to the WAFL Grand Final for 2017 while the loser will host the winner of the first semi-final between South Fremantle and Swan Districts next Sunday.

The two teams have been remarkably difficult to score against all season meaning that it shapes as being a low-scoring, tight affair.

Subiaco has conceded just 63.4 points a game this season while Peel is second best defensively in the competition giving up just 66.6 points a game.

Subiaco has conceded over 100 points just once this season and that was its only loss of 2017 way back in Round 1 against South Fremantle. Taking that out and they have conceded only 60.6 points a game and they have held their opponents to 60 points or under on 10 occasions.

Peel's defensive efforts can't be sneezed at either with them holding teams to 60 points or under nine times as well while also conceding 100 points just the once back in Round 5 against West Perth.

However, the Lions have been significantly better throughout the season averaging 103.1 points a game while the Thunder have kicked an average score of just 74.0 points.

Subiaco has scored 100 points or more nine times in 2017 while Peel has achieved that just once which was way back in Round 2 against East Fremantle.

Subiaco comes into the game having had last week off following a third straight minor premiership with the Lions attempting to qualify for a fourth straight Grand Final having won the premierships of 2014 and 2015, and then losing last year's decider.

It was a remarkably dominant season by the Lions and they earned the break last week to begin the finals series.

That gave the chance for the Lions to get some key players back with inspirational captain Kyal Horsley and versatile veteran big man Clancy Wheeler set to come straight back in after injury layoffs.

Wheeler's return leaves coach Jarrad Schofield with an intriguing selection decision as to whether he keeps all his talls Lachlan Delahunty, Adam Creeper and Brad Stevenson with Wheeler's return or if one of them has to make way.

Brayden Ainsworth, Justin Joyce and James Garcia are the other players in contention for Subiaco's team.

Highlighting just how tough spots are to come by with the Lions is the fact that Rowen Powell has lost his place despite some terrific form to close the season at league level.

Peel finished the home and away season with a 12-8 record to finish in third position before going on to defeat South Fremantle last Saturday in the qualifying final by 18 points at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

The Thunder also have some tough selection decisions to make with Fremantle pair Brennan Cox and Luke Ryan available for selection. But they did field 14 AFL-listed players last week and with the limit of 15, for those two to play one Dockers play will have to miss out on Sunday.

One of the eight local Peel players in the side will have to make way as well. Considering they were made up of captain Gerald Ugle, Leroy Jetta, Rory O'Brien, Brayden Lawler, Aaron Naughton, Traye Bennell, Blair Bell and Ben Hancock that will be a difficult call to make as well.

All signs point to a fascinating contest and with a Grand Final spot and potential premiership favouritism at stake, it will be a game well worth checking out live in person at Leederville Oval or on Channel 7 from 2.30pm.

SECOND SEMI-FINAL
SUBIACO (19-1, 1st) v PEEL THUNDER (12-8, 3rd) – LEEDERVILLE OVAL, SUNDAY 2.40PM
Selected teams, live stats 
Broadcast – Channel 7, ABC Radio