Peel Thunder out to lay Perth Demons to rest | match preview

Peel Thunder will be eager to return to the winners’ list when they take on the Perth Demons at home this Saturday.

The Thunder fell victim to Swan Districts in their clash two weeks ago, before undergoing a bye in round 20.

Now, refreshed and rejuvenated, Peel will look to conquer the Demons in their bid to retain a spot in the WAFL’s top three.

The talking points

1. Freo injuries give opportunities for Peel youngsters

Alex Bray is one of many Peel youngsters shining this season. Photo: Marta Pascual Junaola.

Alex Bray is one of many Peel youngsters shining this season. Photo: Marta Pascual Junaola.

Injuries to Dockers Brady Grey and Hayden Crozier mean Peel will once again go into a game with limited Fremantle players in their line-up, opening the door for local kids to earn to a spot. The biggest loss for Peel is that of Matt Taberner, their leading goal kicker. The Freo forward was recalled for the Dockers’ clash with Sydney after booting 18 straight goals in his last seven games for the Thunder. But Peel has debuted more players in their league side than any other club in the past two seasons, and will continue to rely on them in this game.

​2. Finals closing in

Only three rounds remain in the regular season and while Perth won’t play in the finals this year, they’ll want to at least have some say on where the finals-bound teams finish. Peel on the other hand are playing for a possible home final or second-chance final, and will be desperate to come out on top against the last-placed Demons. Peel currently share a 10-7 record with Swan Districts, who must play an in-form East Perth outfit. If the Royals are able to overcome Swans, it presents and opportunity for Peel to once again distance themselves to a game clear in third.

3. Increased minutes for Harley?

Harley Bennell could be back in Fremantle colours soon. Photo: Kate Hedley.

Harley Bennell could be back in Fremantle colours soon. Photo: Kate Hedley.

Harley Bennell has been restricted in his return to footy, playing on managed minutes and not really being able to sink his teeth into a game as the Fremantle Dockers urge caution with his troublesome calf. But stories emerged during the week that the Dockers could look to give Bennell his first taste of AFL footy in more than two years when they take on Richmond next week. It that is indeed the plan, then Bennell’s game for Peel against Perth this weekend is his opportunity to capture some of his elite form. If he can get through the contest unscathed, and play reasonably well, then speculation will be rife that he is set for an AFL call-up the following weekend.

One to watch

Aaron Naughton

Aaron Naughton has been on fire for Peel Thunder. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

Aaron Naughton has been on fire for Peel Thunder. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

The Peel youngster’s draft stock has been on the rise since earning all-Australian honours in the national under 18s championships, and his form with Peel has been stellar across half back. He has a knack for intercepting the play with a high number of marks, and could go to former AFL-listed player Brant Colledge this week. He’s a player to keep an eye on.

The fixture

Bendigo Bank Stadium, Saturday, 2.15pm