Mental toughness highlights Peel Thunder win over East Perth Royals

Heading into half time of their first match of the season, Peel Thunder held the slimmest of leads over East Perth.

Each side had just a single goal on the board and was struggling to overcome their opponent’s defence.

But Peel broke away from the Royals in the third term, booting five straight goals to effectively put the match on ice.

Thunder coach Cam Shepherd said he was pleased with his side’s ability to stay the course through a tough match.

“I thought we played fairly well in the first half and just lacked a little finish,” he said.

“I mentioned to the boys that stronger minds would play a big part in the second half and I was really pleased with the way we attacked in the third.

“We managed to get on top in the clearance battle and I thought that went a long way to the win.”

Shepherd pointed to the hard work of his defence and his side’s pressure decisive factors.

“I was quite pleased with our back six or seven players, led by Sam Collins,” he said.

“Brayden Lawler was great for us in the second half with his tackling pressure.”

Highlighting the win for the Thunder was the successful return of forward Leroy Jetta.

Shepherd said it was simply good for Jetta to be back on the field after serving a year-long suspension following the Essendon supplements saga.

“I think it’s just nice to see Leroy playing footy again,” he said.

“Obviously he got four goals for us and was really important in the second half, but outside of his performance I think it’s just good to see him using his footy talents again.”

Youngsters Traye Bennell and Alex Bray were also impressive for Peel, showing they will be exciting prospects to watch develop in 2017.

“Alex was good for us in the back end of last year and his hard running is something we’re excited to use more of this season,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Peel’s colts claimed an emphatic victory over the Royals.

Led by four goals each to Jaidon Kearing and Tyson Powell and 26 touches to Durak Tucker, Peel stormed to a 6.7 (43) to 13.13 (91) win.

Unfortunately, Peel missed out on the triple, losing the reserves game 20.14 (134) to 8.8 (56).