THE most incredible of turnarounds in the WAFLW competition continued on Sunday with Peel Thunder making it back-to-back premierships with a 21-point victory against Swan Districts.
The WAFLW competition was officially created back in 2019 to be the elite female football competition in Western Australia to follow the lead on the national level of the AFLW competition, but it was a tough initiation for Peel Thunder.
The Mandurah-based club struggled to be competitive in that first season winning just the one game and finishing five games and a huge percentage behind their nearest rivals in a five-team competition.
It was going to take a significant turnaround but nobody could have imagined just what a remarkable result the Thunder were able to orchestrate.
In the shortened 2020 season, the Thunder were able make a fairytale run all the way to the Grand Final and then defeat Subiaco to make it a stunning story as they achieved premiership glory.
But backing up any success is always an even more significant challenge and for much of the season, Peel looked to have the job ahead of them to overcome Swan Districts.
Swans dominated much of the 2021 Optus WAFLW Premiership Season winning their opening 13 matches and secured the minor premiership, but the Thunder's momentum was building the longer the season went.
Peel managed to end Swan Districts' winning streak late in the home and away season, and then also booked their place in the Grand Final by holding Swans goalless in the second semi-final at Steel Blue Oval.
It always seemed inevitable it would be Peel and Swan Districts in Sunday's Grand Final at Mandurah's David Grays Arena, though, and that's how it panned out with the stage set with over 3000 people in attendance for the occasion.
Despite the dominant season Swan Districts had, their two losses had both been against Peel and the Thunder made it three by proving too strong in the Grand Final that they got to celebrate in style on their home turf.
Peel kicked the only two goals of the first quarter and did control the game the rest of the way to end up prevailing 5.6 (36) to 2.3 (15).
That made it back-to-back premierships for Peel and it's a remarkable story given how far off the mark they were only in 2019.
It's a tough blow, though, for Swan Districts who dominated this season for so long and have now lost two of the three WAFLW Grand Finals that have been played.
Swan Districts was kicking with the breeze behind them in the opening quarter but as the Grand Final progressed, that didn’t prove to be a factor.
Peel kicked the first goal of the game thanks to Kate Bartlett and soon after the Thunder had the hot start when Kira Phillips kicked truly.
They would prove to be the only two goals of the opening quarter but Swan Districts did open the second term with a goal from Bianca Webb. That ended up being the only goal of the quarter with Peel going into half-time with a nine-point edge.
Swan Districts needed to fire in the third quarter but it was Peel who got the first goal thanks to a clever effort at the top of the goal square from Bartlett as she snapped through her second to the delight of the home fans.
Swans stayed just in touch with a lucky toe poked goal from Mikayla Hyde just before three quarter-time and that kept it a seven-point ball game.
That set the stage for a big finish in the Grand Final but it was all the Thunder in the final term with Swans not managing to score. Phillips kicked two more goals for Peel and saw them go on to win by 21 points and secure the back-to-back premierships.
Kira Phillips kicked three goals for Peel and Kate Bartlett two while Sabreena Duffy was judged best afield to win the Lou Knitter Medal.
Ella Roberts, Cassie Davidson and Sarah Verrier were among a host of other players to perform impressively for the Thunder.
Swan Districts' goals came courtesy of Bianca Webb and Mikayla Hyde. They were two of their stronger performers alongside Tara Stribley, Elize Gelmi, Stephanie Cain and captain Emily McGuire.
Earlier in the day, the Grand Finals at David Grays Arena began with the Rogers Cup decider with the West Perth Youth Girls proving too strong for South Fremantle, winning 10.6 (66) to 1.3 (9).
Elissa Price kicked three goals for West Perth, Mahli Turland two and Tarzara Kelly two with one each to Caitlin Thomas, Chanel Scott and Jeevna Heer. South Fremantle's lone goal came courtesy of Indi Strom.
Peel Thunder then started their day of celebration by winning the Reserves Grand Final as well, defeating East Fremantle 6.4 (40) to 5.4 (34) having come from behind at three quarter-time to do so.
Ava Muir kicked three goals for the Thunder, Bailey Molloy two and Demi Okely one.
East Fremantle's goals came courtesy of Karen Salkilld, Gabby Radojkovich, Lauren O'Connor, Jessie McDonald and Sheridan Currie.
OPTUS WAFLW PREMIERSHIP SEASON – GRAND FINAL
PEEL THUNDER 2.0 2.4 3.4 5.6 (36)
SWAN DISTRICTS 0.1 1.1 2.3 2.3 (15)
PEEL THUNDER: Goals – Phillips 3; Bartlett 2.
Best – Duffy, Phillips, Bartlett, Roberts, Davidson, Verrier.
SWAN DISTRICTS: Goals – Webb, M Hyde.
Best – M Hyde, Stribley, Gelmi, Cain, McGuire.
Lou Knitter Medal: Sabreena Duffy (Peel Thunder).