Peel Thunder will be hoping to stretch their win streak to three games when they take on Perth at Lathlain Park this weekend.
Wins and losses seem to be coming in bunches for the Thunder this season, who started the year with three straight victories before a four-game skid saw them drop out of the top five.
Now, after a fortnight of positive results against Claremont and Swan Districts, Peel Thunder will be hoping to cement their place among the league’s top five with a win over Perth.
The talking points
1. Welcome back, Ballantyne
Peel Thunder will welcome the return of a club legend when Hayden Ballantyne once again graces the turf in a teal jumper. The Fremantle-listed forward won a Sandover medal with Peel before being drafted to the Dockers, and will make his return from a serious hamstring injury through the WAFL club. Ballantyne last played for Peel in round 10, 2009, booting five goals in a losing effort against Swan Districts. A forward line made up of Ballantyne, Leroy Jetta, Blair Bell and Gerald Ugle is a daunting task for Perth’s defence.
Perth will enter a game with winning form behind them for just the second time this season after beating Claremont by a narrow eight-points last week. The Demons also have some outstanding individuals on their roster, including arguably the most in-form player of the competition in Clint Jones. Aidan Tropiano is reliable and Devin McFarlane gathered 29 touches and a goal last week. For Peel, Gerald Ugle was influential in setting up the win over Swans last weekend with a strong first half, while Blair Bell, Luke Ryan and Rory O’Brien all impressed.
3. Success in the ruck
Sean Darcy and Jon Griffin have been dominant in the ruck for Peel Thunder in recent weeks. Darcy was especially prolific against Swan Districts, posting 31 hit-outs to go with his difference-making four goals. For Perth, Christian Eyres narrowly beat Claremont ruckman Mitchell Andrews in the hit-outs last week 38-36. Eyres will need to be on point again this week to match it with Peel’s Fremantle-listed duo.
Ballantyne v Perth defence
It’s unclear how Hayden Ballantyne will perform coming off a three-month hamstring injury, but if one thing is for sure it is that all eyes will be on him as he makes his return through the WAFL, particularly those of Perth’s smaller defenders. The Demons face a tough task in stopping Ballantyne, Ugle, Bell and Jetta all at once, and the support around him could free up the Fremantle forward for a big day out on the scorecard.
Lathlain Park, Saturday, May 20, 2.15pm