Sharks bite too much for Thunder
East Fremantle have broken their 25-year premiership drought, winning their 30th flag with a 39-point grand final win over Peel Thunder.
The Sharks’ red-hot defensive pressure and some classy finishing in front of goal saw them lead all day in their first appearance in the season decider since 2012, running out 12.13 (85) to 6.10 (46) victors in front of a crowd of 27,104 people at Optus Stadium.
Harry Marsh fashioned a brilliant goal from the intersection of the 50-metre arc and the boundary line inside the game’s opening minute to set the tone early for the minor premiers, before Tom Joyce and Milan Murdock followed up with majors as they jumped out to an early 20-point lead.
Ben Middleton and Brodie Wemm hit back for Peel to reduce the deficit to 11 points at quarter time, before an enthralling second quarter saw the Sharks take a 14-point advantage into half-time as the Thunder stayed into the contest thanks to two classy finishes from Travis Colyer.
East Fremantle again broke from the blocks quickly at the opening of the second half, with Hugh Dixon kicking truly from deep in the pocket only 56 seconds after the restart.
A long bomb from Jack Sears kept the Thunder in touch while the leaders blew some kickable opportunities, until cousins Reuben and Ben McGuire stepped up by nailing difficult set shots to extend the margin out to 28 points at the final interval.
Storming home late has been Peel’s trademark during their alignment with Fremantle, but an early crumbing goal from Alex Montauban settled the nerves for the Sharks before Tom Bennett and Josh Schoenfeld hit the scoreboard to seal the deal as the majority blue-and-white crowd began to shift into party mode.
Star midfielder Murdock won the Simpson Medal after a coaching masterstroke from Bill Monaghan saw him deployed mostly as a forward, with his 27 disposals and one goal seeing him register eight votes, one ahead of Joyce (30 disposals, one goal) on seven votes, while Fraser Turner (37 disposals) and Cam Eardley (25 disposals) also shone on the big day.
For the Thunder, Corey Wagner, who has been repositioned into the midfield from half-back during the finals series, gathered 31 disposals and laid 15 tackles in a mighty effort, while Travis Colyer (14 disposals, two goals) and Nathan Wilson (26 disposals) were excellent in what may be their final outing for the club.
IMAGE: WA FOOTBALL