Leroy Jetta booted four goals in his return from a year-long suspension to buoy Peel Thunder to a win over East Perth in their season opener at Leederville Oval on Saturday night.
Peel booted five unanswered goals in the third quarter, proving too much for a wasteful Royals outfit to overcome as the Thunder moved to a 1-0 record on the back of a 7.11 (53) to 4.12 (36) win.
Jetta was dominant in his comeback, showing he has put Essendon’s anti-doping saga behind him with a 16-disposal, four-goal performance to highlight Peel’s win.
Perfect conditions greeted the two teams but solid structure and stingy defence saw each side enter half time with just a single goal on their scorelines.
But Peel broke the game apart in the third quarter, with their link up play and forward 50m entries significantly improved on the first half.
Their five goals in the third saw them stretch to a 25-point lead at the final break, a lead that proved insurmountable despite a spirited fight back from the Royals in the fourth.
The talking points
1. Alexander Bray can play league footy
The Peel coaches will be thrilled by the performances from many of their locals, but none shone brighter than 19-year-old Alexander Bray. The defender may have gathered just 13 disposals on the night, but it was enough for him to showcase his speed, awareness and fierce pressure. Bray is a prospect Thunder fans will enjoy watching develop more in 2017.
2. Mixed results for Fremantle youngsters
Second-year Docker Harley Balic impressed with 30 disposals and three inside 50 entries, but many of his Freo teammates had their struggles. Highly-anticipated top-10 draft pick Griffin Logue picked up 17 touches but looked shaky a few times in defence, while Brennan Cox showed good signs but finished with just 10 touches as he works his way into the system. On the bright side, Sean Darcy (22 hit outs), Luke Strnadica (10 disposals, one goal) and Taylin Duman (19 disposals) all showed great touch in their Peel debuts.
3. Jetta fires in return
He’s spent the past year on the sidelines nursing a suspension, but Jetta showed he has lost none of his natural goal-sense and opportunistic play style by snagging four majors, all in the second half. One play late in the third quarter saw Jetta make the most of a deep inside 50 entry, escaping pressure near the goal square and slotting a major.