Echuca United has defeated Mulwala in the Murray Football League to claim its first senior premiership.By Geordie Cowan
It has been 20 years in the making, but Echuca United finally celebrated its first senior football premiership on Saturday.
The Eagles comprehensively defeated Mulwala in the Murray Football League decider at Tocumwal, winning 18.12
Celebrations erupted after the final siren as more than 500 United supporters surged onto the ground, revelling in a premiership which was a long time coming.
Echuca United’s first life member — and 1992-93 Echuca South Football Club president — Laurie Martin handed over the cup to the team in a fitting tribute to the club’s history.
The Eagles were the dominant team throughout the day, winning all four quarters, which reflected the upper hand they have held over the Lions this year.
The team’s greatest strength came from its lack of a weakness, with players lifting when needed.
Coach Scott Beattie had a superb first half and won the AFL Vic Country best on ground medal and also received the player of the finals series award, but he was far from alone in inspiring the side.
Liam Guinan capped his memorable year off with a starring performance in the midfield, while Jarrod Prior and 150-gamer Craig Frost excelled in defensive roles.
Farran Priest lit up the match in the opening term with three goals and his brother Rowan was at his industrious best.
The imposing presence of Guy Campbell led the forward line, booting a game high four goals as he improved throughout the match.
On-field leaders Duane Hueston and Bryn Barnes-Webb added to their performances with two goals each, as did Cameron Parker during a lively first-half display and Justin Saker during the third term.
For the Lions, coach Nick O’Bryan and ruckman Daniel Clarke were valiant all day, while defenders Lucas Olson, Dean Bigger, James Wilson and Josh Slattery fought hard in difficult circumstances.
On a sunny day, the Eagles were well on their way to their first premiership triumph after a superb first half.
Beattie, Frost and Parker were lively early, with Parker kicking the first goal of the game in the seventh minute.
After a ferocious opening, the Eagles were composed in possession and constantly found targets, with Farran Priest sinking the next two goals from open play.
Beattie was racking up the touches in the middle and Liam Guinan revelling in the tough contest, with Rowan Hill and Rowan Priest also chipping in.
Farran Priest then turned provider to deliver a laces-out pass to Campbell as the Eagles took a 25-1 lead.
Kyle Archibald finally replied for the Lions in the 21st minute, but a Farran Priest gather, prop and classy left-foot snap re-established United’s advantage to lead 31-7 at quarter-time.
During the break, Beattie reminded his players how well conditioned they were with the week off and encouraged them to wear Mulwala down and do the little things better.
An inspirational Clint Starkey chase and tackle early in the second quarter set the tone, before Mulwala’s Cameron Symes received a yellow card in the fifth minute for a high hit on Beattie behind the ball, which saw the coach sporting a bulge on his right cheek bone at half-time.
In a sometimes spiteful term, full-back Jake Guinan was also forced to come from the field after copping a knock.
However, the Eagles fought through the Lions’ defensive outlook with goals to Parker and Beattie, with the team leading 45-10 at half-time.
Mulwala’s first-half tally of just one goal and four behinds was its lowest score since round 16, 2008, against Rumbalara.
That was a tribute to United’s defence, which was led by Guinan, who kept powerhouse forward Chase Strawhorn goalless.
Ryan Prendergast played an important role coming out of defence, while the likes of Daniel Cavallaro, Troy Ferrier and Josh Rankins were industrious around the ground.
With the premiership there to be won, United started the third quarter in scintillating fashion with goals to Campbell, Barnes-Webb and Liam Guinan to establish a 54-point lead.
James Coppock stood tall with a couple of strong defensive marks, while fellow talls Tom Jackson and Clayton Zanella maintained their solid efforts.
Cameron Parker received a yellow card after an incident with Tim Doyle, with Mulwala captain Nathan Parker then kicking his team’s first goal since the opening term, but this spurred the Eagles to even greater heights.
Campbell outmarked two defenders before accelerating away and goaling, before a terrific passage of play saw Farran Priest suck one opponent in and then run around him to deliver to Beattie, who sent the set shot straight over the goal umpire’s head.
Saker completed the team’s seven-goal term with two majors of his own, with only Parker and Archibald providing some reprieve for the Lions at the other end as the Eagles led 89-32 at the final change.
United and crowd enjoyed the final term as both teams kicked four goals, with Barnes-Webb snagging the first for the Eagles.
Mulwala captain Parker — in his last game before retiring — was yellow-carded for allegedly striking a water boy, while goals to Campbell and two to veteran Hueston were celebrated by players and fans alike as United won by 62 points.
A male allegedly armed with a hunting knifed stole cash from a Euroa McDonald's last night.
It’s been a long journey for Tim Roadley but his dream of creating a multi-sport endurance event on the Murray River is now going to be a reality.
It was a big day for Jye McNeil on Sunday, not only celebrating his 19th birthday, but riding a double at the Tatura and Shepparton Racing Club’s meeting, including the big one, the Vraca and Varapodio Italian Plate (1600 m), on the Gerald Egan-trained Jetconi.
Drivers crossing the Echuca-Moama bridge faced delays this morning at 11.30am when a tractor lost its wheel.
Rochester’s old Courthouse is undergoing a facelift thanks to a restoration grant.
Waste collection in Campaspe Shire will change for two weeks during the festive season.
Valley Park Farms' egg production facility is expected to increase production and staff after a $100 000 Victorian Government grant.
Murchison’s Jane Spencer’s first exhibition It Just Dawned On Me will be on show in Shepparton in the first half of next year.
Australian sporting legends are at Heathcote Golf Club this morning for the MS Ashes Trek golf day to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis.
Cobram Barooga Apex Club have raised more than $3600 for Irvin House at Cobram District Health.
Deniliquin RSL Club's A grade bowling championships came to a head on Sunday, with preliminary matches in B and C grade also taking place.
New Transport Accident Commission research has revealed why some young country drivers habitually take risks on regional roads.
State Member for Benalla Bill Sykes has thrown his support behind the government’s proposed new domestic animal ownership laws.
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