A clinical third quarter has helped East Fremantle to a comfortable 32-point opening round WAFL triumph against Peel Thunder on Good Friday at David Grays Arena.
After an even first half, a six-goal to two third quarter helped the Sharks to a 15.16 (106) to 11.8 (74) victory in what has now become an annual Good Friday fixture between the two clubs in Mandurah.
Former Gold Coast-listed midfielder Josh Schoenfeld was excellent for the visitors, picking up 41 disposals and nine marks showing why his inclusion this year could be a factor in the Sharks rising up the ladder.
Ruckman Luke Strnadica (43 hit outs) was a colossus at stoppages, dominating the hit out count and giving midfielders Milan Murdock (32 disposals) and Luke English (26 disposals, six clearances) first use as well.
For the Thunder, emerging midfielder Michael Randall battled hard with 22 disposals and two goals, whilst Jarvis Pina was solid in defence and Sam Sturt kicked five goals to put his hand up for a call up into the Fremantle Dockers forward-line.
An entertaining first quarter saw the sides trade goals early, before two long bombs from forward Dillon O’Reilly and a sharp set shot from ruckman Luke Strnadica saw the Sharks open a 20-point margin at the first change.
However, Peel struck back hard in the second stanza, booting four goals in 13 minutes to snatch the lead before a late goal to Tim Bockman saw the visitors head to the long break with a two-point advantage.
Sam Sturt was instrumental in the comeback, adding to his two first quarter goals with two more in the second, causing headaches for the Sharks defenders playing as a deep forward.
But after a see-sawing first half, the visitors put the foot down in the third quarter, lifting their intensity around the ball and booting six of the next seven goals.
That was headlined by a miraculous snap by former West Perth goalkicking midfielder Corey Chalmers on debut with East Fremantle to establish a buffer that would prove too great for the hosts to overcome.
BIG FORWARDS MAKE IMMEDIATE IMPRESSION ON RETURN TO SHARKS COLOURS
Among a productive off-season, East Fremantle were able to add local products Dillon O’Reilly and Jonathon Marsh after their respective AFL stints. The two key forwards could not have started better on their returns in blue and white, with both booting two goals in the first quarter and working well in tandem. O’Reilly finished with three majors whilst Marsh used his strong body and penetrating kick to good effect around the ball. The two, alongside the likes of Corey Chalmers, Tim Bockman and Hugh Dixon (who played reserves) will form part of a forward-line that could cause problems for opposition defences this season.
PEEL YOUNGSTER A THORN IN EAST FREO’S SIDE
Tyrone Thorne may only be 169cm in stature. But for what the Peel livewire lacks in height, he certainly makes up for in football ability. The diminutive Thorne was terrific for the Thunder, using his agility and skill to gather 18 disposals and five marks, and provide a constant spark for the Thunder across the four quarters. Thorne, along with youngsters Ben Middleton, Jarvis Pina and James Ewing, give the Thunder a strong core of young players that bodes for a bright future for the Mandurah club.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 1
PEEL THUNDER 3.0 7.4 9.5 11.8 (74)
EAST FREMANTLE 6.2 7.6 13.14 15.16 (106)
PEEL THUNDER: Goals – Sturt 5; Randall 2, Thorne, Merrett, Western, Lawler.
Best – Sturt, Randall, Pina, Merrett.
EAST FREMANTLE: Goals – O'Reilly 3; Marsh, Kommer, Monaghan 2; Strnadica, Boekhorst, Eardley, Lester-Smith, Chalmers, Bockman.
Best – Schoenfeld, Marsh, Strnadica, Lester-Smith, Bockman, Chalmers, Leggett, Bennett.