Sunday Territorian

O’Connell lives up to the hype, the tireless talent getting Eagles home


A HALF-FIELD effort from Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell proved the difference and put Wanderers on top in a tight, bruising 10.12 (72) to 9.7 (61) win over a spirited Southern Districts side.

Eagles’ young gun and 2019-20 Nichols Medal winner O’Connell came in with intensity and was at the centre of everything great at Wanderers, with his service seeing the side to an early lead.

And it was him that Districts made sure to cover as they mounted their comeback, taking the lead at quarter-time with goals from Josiah Farrer and Tom Demamiel.

The Muk Muks found a slew of ascendancy back early in the second quarter, showing their speed and power through the midfield.

A brace from Stanley Tipiloura and a single from Jarred Erlandson showed the Wanderers’ intent to get their season off to a winning start.

But as in the first quarter, the Crocs wouldn’t let go waking up with a long-range effort from Jonathan Ross and a brace of free kicks from Henry Armour to regain the lead.

However, missed opportunit­ies from Josiah Farrer and a last-gasp kick for goal on the buzzer from Jerome Motlop saw the encounter tied once more at halftime.

Eagles continued their attempts to distance themselves, but each time Districts struck back with Ross twice adding to his goal tally to eventually tie up the score again.

O’Connell showed his class once again late in the fourth quarter, sprinting downfield all on his own, setting up a scoring opportunit­y that he finished off himself to give his side the lead.

And that proved the winning effort that alongside key pressure from Keelan Fejo allowed Simon Bates to contribute another score soon after to take the game away for the Muk Muks.

“We’re happy with that. We have an alllocal side and our juniors are coming through, so it was good to crack them at the end,” Bates said.

“It was a relieving win. It was an allround team effort and our midfield did really well dominating around the stoppages particular­ly considerin­g we didn’t win as many rucks.

“It just came down to mental toughness in the end. Round 1 skills are always a bit off, decision making and fitness are also down so it comes down to who’s willing to keep pushing the longest.

“O’Connell puts in those whole field efforts time after time and that just breaks the game, it breaks the opposition when people can do stuff like that.”

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 ?? ?? Wanderers’ Marcus Totham in attack. Top, left: Districts’ Jack Ganley. Pictures: Julianne Osborne
Wanderers’ Marcus Totham in attack. Top, left: Districts’ Jack Ganley. Pictures: Julianne Osborne

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