NOT even the return of Geelong AFL champion Harry Taylor was enough for East Fremantle on Saturday with Peel Thunder snapping its losing slide in style at New Choice Homes Park.
Peel came into the game with just the three wins for the season and on a five-game losing streak as they ventured to Shark Park as part of the WAFL's NAIDOC Round on Saturday to take on an East Fremantle boosted by the return of Taylor.
Taylor started his career with East Fremantle before heading to Geelong in 2008 where he would go on to become one of Western Australia's finest AFL exports this century playing 280 games including winning two premierships and two All-Australian selections.
The 35-year-old made his return to his original club on Saturday and he provided the Sharks a good option in attack with four goals, but didn’t receive enough support with Peel Thunder reigning victorious taking out East Fremantle 13.10 (88) to 9.8 (62) in the NAIDOC Round clash.
While both sides were chasing finals contention, just shy of the top five, it was ultimately the Thunder who prevailed thanks to a second quarter surge that proved too much for the Sharks.
It was a fairly quiet opening term with only four goals kicked between the two teams. This didn’t prevent Peel from taking the lead, producing three of the four majors through clean ball movement and dominating possession.
Recent addition Jackson Knight was first to open the scoring, kicking his first league goal since making the move from Northampton earlier this year.
While they didn’t appear active on the scoreboard, Sharks ruckman Luke Strnadica made an impression dominating the hit outs nine to three.
However, a stunning second quarter surge gave the Thunder a 38-point lead come half-time and they appeared on track to snap their losing run.
The Mandurah side shared the ball around with five goals from various players to push them ahead.
Brodie Lake made a notable performance kicking two goals with help from Jackson Merrett and James Sturrock who led the game in gathering disposals.
While Taylor tried to close the gap early in the quarter with a goal for the Sharks, Peel prevented them from bringing the ball forward producing more than double their total inside 50s for the first half.
The Thunder continued their reign in the third term, with another three goals to propel their lead, two from Luke Valente.
Again, Taylor responded to the Thunder’s trifecta with a goal, this time motivating teammates resulting in a back-to-back goal from Michael Tassone as well as three additional behinds.
It was clear the side had settled their ball movement, being more tactical when moving forward allowing them to more than double their inside 50s in the quarter.
Taylor's second goal for the quarter brought the difference to 37 at three quarter-time.
The Sharks' hunger perpetuated into the final quarter, with two quick goals from Alex Montauban, proving their ferocity right to the end.
Their contest continued as the Sharks looked to comeback in the final minutes but despite producing another 14 points, the Thunder continued to power on, a goal from Joel Western securing the victory.
The 26-point win marks sees the end of Thunder’s four-game loss streak, pushing them up into sixth position on the ladder, replacing their opponents as they seek a spot in the finals.
TAYLOR’S TRIUMPHANT RETURN
Geelong legend Harry Taylor returned to the Sharks for his 50th WAFL game. Taylor last appeared for the side 13 years ago in Round 23 of the 2007 season, prior to departing for the east. The 35-year-old led the Sharks' full-forward line, contrasting to his career mostly as a defender for the Cats. But he always showed he could be a swingman and go forward and on Saturday, he wowed the Sharks faithful with four goals from 15 disposals, nine kicks and five marks.
Two notable players emerged on the ground for their first WAFL appearances, Corey Warner and Hayden Young for East Fremantle and Peel Thunder respectively. The 17-year-old Warner, younger brother of Sydney Swans' Chad Warner, has been prominent player in the Sharks colts side and performed well with 14 disposals and five marks. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Dockers draftee Young made a statement with 15 disposals and six marks.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 14
EAST FREMANTLE 1.1 2.1 5.5 9.8 (62)
PEEL THUNDER 3.1 8.3 11.6 13.10 (88)
EAST FREMANTLE: Goals – Taylor 4; Montauban 2; English, Tassone, Teakle.
Best – Eardley, Bennett, Boekhorst, Taylor, Lester-Smith, Montauban.
PEEL THUNDER: Goals – Valente 3; Lake, Cullen 2; Lawler, Thorne, Western, Sturrock, Knight, Sears.
Best – Merrett, Randall, Valente, Thorne, Hancock, Watson, Duman, Sturrock.