It’s been three years since the Peel Thunderbirds last played finals at the top level of the WA Women’s Football League, but that drought will come to an end when they square off with East Fremantle in a second semi final this weekend.
It will be the first time the club has ever played in a final where they go in with a second chance lifeline, but the Thunderbirds will be eager to avoid having to use their safety net with a potential win securing them a week off and an early grand final berth.
They head into the top-of-the-table clash with East Fremantle after finishing the year in second on the back of a loss to Swan Districts over the weekend.
Peel trailed by a mere seven points at half time but fell to Swans’ on-ball attack, which helped them secure four goals while keeping the Thunderbirds to just one in the second half to run out 8.4 (52) to 4.3 (27) victors.
But Thunderbirds head coach Mark Fenton was looking on the brighter side of the loss, saying it was the lesson the side needed as they brace for an arduous finals campaign.
“I thought that was exactly what we needed, to be honest,” he said.
“Obviously you never want to lose but Swans taught us a bit of a lesson and we’ll take that on board and be ready for some big games in the coming weeks.
“Really it was perfect timing for us to just get a reminder as to what finals footy is going to be like – I think we’ll be far better off for it.”
The result sets up a date with East Fremantle for the Thunderbirds, who finished the season with one loss to their name, which just so happened to come at the hands of Peel.
Fenton said it was an exciting time for the club, with all three grades (league, reserves, youth girls) playing finals at East Fremantle Oval this Sunday.
“For our league side to be back playing finals, and for the reserves and youth girls to finish on top, it’s a really proud time for our club,” he said.
“We know we need to take things to another level now, and we’re confident we can do that.”
A loss against East Fremantle will see the Thunderbirds hosting the winner of the Swan Districts and Subiaco clash next week, which would likely be held at Rhonda Scarrott Oval in Secret Harbour with Peel’s usual home ground (Bendigo Bank Stadium) hosting a game between the Mandurah Mustangs and South Mandurah on that day.
But Peel will be hoping to avoid that situation entirely, with a win over East Fremantle securing them a grand final spot.