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Round 3 Preview – Peel Thunder v PerthSaturday, April 14, 2018 - 7:23 AM - by Chris Pike

THE premiers of the past two seasons and the wooden spooners from three of the last four years do battle at Bendigo Bank Stadium on Sunday in the last game of Round 3 when Peel Thunder hosts Perth.

Since the 2012 season when Peel and Perth occupied the bottom two spots on the WAFL ladder combining for just the 11 wins with the Thunder ending up with the wooden spoon, there has been a stark contrast in the fortunes of both teams.

It was Perth who looked to be the improves out of the two teams in 2013 when they won 10 games to only miss out on a first finals appearance since 1997 by one game and percentage.

That was a false dawn for the Demons, though, who were back to finishing last in 2014 and while the Thunder only marginally improved winning four games, their new partnership with Fremantle would soon bring some stunning results.

With Perth claiming another wooden spoon in 2015 winning just two games and having a percentage of 59, Peel qualified for finals for the first time in the club's history despite losing to West Perth and East Perth to be out in straight sets.

Perth only improved to eighth position in 2016 with seven wins while Peel again qualified for finals and this time took all before them beating East Perth, West Perth, South Fremantle and Subiaco on the way to the premiership.

The Thunder then made it back-to-back premierships in 2017 while the Demons slipped back to another wooden spoon finish with just the three victories.

A lot has changed since that 2012 season ended the run of the two teams perennially sharing wooden spoon duties and now their opening meeting of 2018 appears to leave Perth with a big task ahead despite a couple of injuries at Peel.

The Thunder were short on fit men late in the game last week and ended up losing to Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval by 14 points on the back of a solid 15-point Round 1 victory at home to East Fremantle.

Perth, meanwhile, has had a challenging start to the 2018 season again beginning with a 45-point loss at home to Swan Districts and then a seven-point defeat against its fellow three-win team from 2017 last Saturday, East Fremantle.

Peel has been dominant against Perth in recent years winning the past nine meetings between the two clubs, including by 90 and 21 points in the two games in 2017.

From the team that lost by 14 points to Swan Districts last Saturday, Peel does lose Sean Darcy, Brady Grey and Michael Tassone to injury.

Darcy Tucker is also out of the Peel team having played for Fremantle against the GWS Giants in Canberra. But the Thunder should retain the services of Dockers players Scott Jones and Danyle Pearce.

Peel will also be strengthened by the returns of Sam Switkowski and Cameron Sutcliffe while Kaine Ah Chee, Brad Walsh, Kalani Scarrott, Luke Strnadica, Corey Morris, Matthew Piggott, Josh Mathers and Alex Cohen all come into the squad.

Perth's team was strengthened with the returns of captain Clint Jones and 2016 fairest and best winner Michael Sinclair last week against East Fremantle.

The Demons will look to further improve on that performance on Sunday against Peel in Mandurah as they chase their first win of 2018, and first win over the Thunder in 10 attempts.

The two teams now do battle in the last game of Round 3 on Sunday at Bendigo Bank Stadium with bounce down set for 2.15pm.

Selected teams, live stats 
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