Perth defied both the odds and a string of Dockers-listed players to hang on for a pulsating 13.10 (88) to 13.9 (87) win over Peel Thunder at Lane Group Stadium.
Despite leading all day, the visitors were forced to defend for their lives in the final minute, as the Thunder threw everything at them in a bid to pinch the game.
It is often said a team can often convey a number of personal traits typified by their coach — and in the case of the Demons on Saturday, this sentiment was accurate.
Much like Perth coach Garry Moss during his playing days with Hawthorn and East Perth, the Demons were passionate, slick and hurled themselves into every contest — no matter how small the odds seemed in their favour.
The visitors had the better of the opening exchanges, with Kieran Hug getting Perth off to the best possible start.
On the back of a lightning-fast centre break, the tenacious Demons forwards were able to instigate a chain of deft handballs, with Hug able to fire home from close range inside the opening 30 seconds.
With influential big man Ajang Ajang dominating the clearances, the visitors were able to get plenty of direct entries deep into their forward line, with Fraser McInnes (who had nine disposals in the opening term) and Sam Stubbs (four goals) extremely effective when the ball hit the deck.
It took until the 18-minute mark of the opening term for the Thunder to truly hit their straps, with a scintillating run and carry goal from Ty Anderson — who has been in excellent form since joining from SWFL outfit Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault — giving the home supporters something to cheer about.
However the Demons quickly hit back, with three goals in time-on giving them a tidy buffer at quarter time.
Moss’s men continued their impressive appetite for the remainder of the half, racing out to a 28-point lead and looking incredibly dangerous all around the ground.
Aside from Fremantle Dockers listed duo Neil Erasmus and Nathan Wilson, the Thunder at times had few other players able to hurt the Demons with their disposal.
The Thunder appeared to suffer another blow early in the third term when Wilson limped off after hurting his ankle in a contest, however he returned shortly after.
Instead of wilting from this misfortune, the home side began to take the game on, with their counter-attack pace in the corridor generating reward for effort on the scoreboard, which set the stage for a grandstand finish.
In a frenetic final quarter, the Thunder had a couple of opportunities to hit the front for the first time in the game, however the Demons held firm.
PERTH 6.5 10.7 11.8 13.10 (88)
PEEL THUNDER 4.1 6.3 10.5 13.9 (87)
Goals – PERTH: S. Stubbs 4, K. Cary 3, K. Hug 2, F. McInnes, J. Busher, A. Ajang, C. Jones. PEEL THUNDER: S. Sturt 3, B. Bell, R. George 2, N. Erasmus, H. Matthews, T. Anderson, R. Bennell, W. Derksen, J. Sears.
Best – PERTH: S. Stubbs, B. Ainsworth, F. McInnes, K. Cary, A. Davis, C. Byrne. PEEL THUNDER: N. Erasmus, B. Bell, C. Blakely, B. Kitchingman, H. Matthews, M. Crowden.
Injuries: Z. Pretty replaced in selected side by N. Erasmus (AFL).
Umpires: A. Crowhurst, B. Evans, K. Titterton. Crowd: About 950 at Lane Group Stadium.