The Peel Cavaliers got the ball rolling early for their 2017 Landmark Country Football Championships campaign with a round one victory over the South West Football League at Bendigo Bank Stadium on Saturday night.
It was a tale of two halves as Peel stormed to an early lead, keeping the South West goalless in the first half.
But they were forced to defend that lead when the green and gold jerseys came charging back into the game, cutting the margin to seven points in the dying stages as Peel held on for a 10.13 (73) to 10.4 (64) win.
The Cavaliers set the tone early with hard, physical football their preferred style of play.
They romped the South West at every contest and surged forward a number of times early.
Halls Head product Michael Beeton was electrifying in the first term, flying into contests and creating opportunities for teammates.
His ball-winning ability allowed Peel to enter their forward half with regularity, where South Mandurah spearhead Brad Holmes was dominant.
Holmes booted the first two goals of the game to get the ball rolling, as Peel went into the first break with a 32-point lead.
The Cavaliers refused to ease up in the second term, piling on the pain for the South West.
Clay Smith was a force around the ground for the Cavaliers while Keegan Power, Andrew Haydon and Aaron Bowers caused headaches for the visitors.
Peel locked the ball in their forward half for the entire quarter and took a 59-point lead into the half time break with the South West yet to register a goal.
But the coin flipped in the second half, with the South West booting the first four goals coming out of the break to charge back into the match.
Brett Peake kick-started the surge, and was a key instigator in getting his side back from the brink.
Fortunately for the Cavaliers, they were able to absorb the South West’s early third-quarter barrage and chew almost 10 minutes off the clock without giving up a goal late in the period.
That would prove to be crucial to the result, as the South West threw everything they had at the reigning champions in the final term.
They booted five goals to Peel’s none, and were able to cut the margin to seven points late in the term.
Jon Meadmore was a force for the South West while Jace Cormack provided plenty of spark.
But some late heroics from Holmes, who took a crucial mark in Peel’s forward line to chew time off the clock, helped Peel seal the win, their third straight against the South West.
The championships will now resume in mid-July, with Peel taking on Upper Great Southern and Lower South West, while the South West will battle against Avon and Great Northern in a bid to return to the final.
B. Holmes 3, K. Westwood, J. Carter, T. Wood, A. Haydon, A. Bowers, S. Pauls, M. Buxton
B. Peake 3, P. Farrant 2, J. Fontana, M. Battaglia, K. Hug, Ja. Cormack, D. Heasman
A. Bowers, C. Smith, J. Carter, T. Wood, B. Wright, B. Holmes
J. Meadmore, J. Battaglia, B. Peake, Ja. Cormack, W. Oelsnik, K. Bumann