WAFL 2022: Demons coach Gary Moss keeps it cool after pulsating one-point win over fast-finishing Peel Thunder

Headshot of Justin Fris
Justin FrisThe West Australian
Perth held on for a nail-biting win in Mandurah against Peel Thunder on Saturday.
Camera IconPerth held on for a nail-biting win in Mandurah against Peel Thunder on Saturday. Credit: James Worsfold/James Worsfold

In the aftermath of Perth’s pulsating one-point triumph over an Dockers-laden Peel Thunder outfit at Lane Group Stadium on Saturday, Demons coach Garry Moss was cool as a cucumber.

While some coaches might have needed to sit down following an electric contest which ebbed and flowed, Moss was one of the first officials outside of the rooms to chat with all of his players as they prepared to head for home.

Prior to his senior coaching career, the former Hawthorn and East Perth onballer was an accomplished talent development manager with the Royals, where he developed an ability to communicate and work with modern-day footballers.

This, along with an unwavering desire to deliver success to the Demons faithful, was why Saturday’s gripping victory over the Thunder was particularly satisfying.

“Last year was really disappointing for us — particularly the way we finished the year,” Moss said.

“We have focused really hard on being an effort-based team. And making sure when our members and supporters come to a game, regardless of the result in the game, they walk away knowing their team has had a real crack playing with endeavour.

“This is what we have been trying to bring and aside from the East Perth game, we have been able to do that and will aim to continue it for the remainder of the season.”

Heading into the clash, Thunder supporters would have been confident of a strong showing against the Demons, given that their number of home wins (16) against Perth in Mandurah is the most against any traditional WAFL club throughout their history.

But Donnybrook product Kieran Hug gave the Demons the best possible start just 30 seconds into the clash to set the boilover in motion.

Benefitting from a chain of handballs, Hug was able to fire home from close range, with the visitors going on to add another five for the quarter.

Austin Davis looks to handball against Peel Thunder.
Camera IconAustin Davis looks to handball against Peel Thunder. Credit: James Worsfold/James Worsfold

With impressive ruckman Ajang Ajang dominating at centre bounces, the Demons were afforded several deep entries into their forward line, with Sam Stubbs (four goals) and former West Coast Eagles forward Fraser McInnes giving the Thunder defenders plenty of headaches.

“We were really pleased with how our forward set-up looked,” Moss said.

“We looked really dangerous ahead of the footy. Fraser has had an outstanding start to the year, and both he and Sam have given us really good targets up there, so we need to keep giving them opportunities.”

Aside from Dockers duo Neil Erasmus and Nathan Wilson, the Thunder struggled at times to hurt the Demons with their disposal in the first half.

Trailing by 28 points early in the third term, the home side appeared to suffer yet another blow, as Wilson limped off after appearing to hurt his ankle.

A collective sigh of relief from Thunder officials and supporters was audible when he returned a short time later.

Perth midfielder Brayden Ainsworth handballs the ball.
Camera IconPerth midfielder Brayden Ainsworth handballs the ball. Credit: James Worsfold/James Worsfold

Needing a spark in order to turn the tide, Thunder goalsneak Roy George bobbed up with two quick goals in a three-minute purple patch, while Erasmus and Ethan Hughes began to win more of the ball in the corridor.

Hearts were in mouths during a breakneck speed final term, as the home side threw everything at the Demons, who had essentially led from the opening bounce.

Defending as if their lives depended on it, the Demons managed to survive a shanked checkside behind from Erasmus to claim a morale-boosting away win.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails