Peel Thunder has been on a roll in recent weeks and will look to make it five straight wins when they take on the East Perth Royals at Leederville Oval.
The return of Fremantle superstar Harley Bennell through Peel has dominated headlines this week, and the star midfielder could provide a boost in the Thunder’s quest for a fifth-straight win.
The game also has some importance on the ladder, with a win possibly moving Peel into equal second spot.
The talking points
1. Welcome back, Harley
Bennell’s road back to senior footy has been a long one, 16 months long to be precise. His last game came in round one of the 2016 WAFL season, where he amassed 23 disposals and four goals in a losing effort. He will only play 60 minutes of game time this weekend as Fremantle are taking every necessary precaution with his return from a calf injury, but the talented mid could provide some serious spark within that hour. Bennell has also been named in Peel’s reserves side without playing in recent weeks, as Fremantle look to qualify him for the WAFL finals.
2. The “mini-derby”
It’s always interesting when Fremantle’s affiliate club meets West Coast’s in these Peel v East Perth match-ups. So much AFL talent on the same field means the games are usually unpredictable, and in their two meetings this season they’ve split the results with a win apiece. Fremantle players lining up for Peel will include the likes of Danyle Pearce, Matt Taberner, Ed Langdon and Bennell while East Perth will boast Eagles like Tom Lamb, Luke Partington and Josh Hill.
3. Peel newcomers in top form
Peel has debuted a high number of players for a side defending a premiership this season, and the results have been terrific for the Mandurah-based side. Matthew Piggott and Damon Cramer both showed plenty in their debuts last week, while Michael Tassone has been able to hold his spot with impressive outings. Haydn Matthews has been a revelation since debuting in round seven, while Michael Humble and Alex Bray have enjoyed strong sophomore seasons after first appearing last year. Peel’s youngsters are the perfect complement to a line-up filled with experienced senior footballers.
It starts in the ruck with heavyweight Jon Griffin and Jon Giles doing battle. Both have proven they can compete at the top level, and are perhaps just one breakout performance away from an AFL berth. At their feet sits a string of talent. Named in the starting midfield for East Perth is Kurt Mutimer and Patrick McGinnity, while Peel will lean on stars like Harley Balic, Cam Sutcliffe and Rory O’Brien. Both have the capability to control games, which should form an intriguing battle both at centre bounces and around the ground.
Leederville Oval, Saturday, 2.15pm