The Gold Coast Suns recorded a five point win over Collingwood on Saturday, the final score 11.14 (80) to 10.15 (75).
The home side claimed victory in front of a Metricon Stadium record crowd of 24,032.
The Suns struck some early trouble with Captain Gary Ablett forced off the field with a dislocated shoulder. But goldcoastfc.com.au reported that Jaeger O’Meara stepped up and turned in a coming of age second-half performance against Collingwood.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
Gold Coast’s young midfield star was nothing short of spectacular following the early departure of Gary Ablett through to a dislocated shoulder, willing himself at every contest with reckless abandon.
O’Meara, alongside midfield partners Harley Bennell, Dion Prestia and David Swallow, directed teammates at stoppages and showed Guy McKenna in the coaching box that the Gold Coast mentor would have plenty of future leaders at his disposal for years to come.
When the final siren rang, the 2013 Ron Evans Medal winner had a total of 25 touches to his name, as well as eight marks, six tackles and four inside-50 entries.
He hasn’t missed a game in his 37-game career, but from his 17 career wins, O’Meara said the post-match celebration after beating the Magpies might just be the sweetest given how hard the team was made to push in that thrilling final quarter.
“It was obviously a hard-fought victory,” he said.
“I don’t think we played too well in the first half, but we stuck to them and in the second half we started to win the 50/50 balls, and started not mucking around and just kicked it forward.
“Hard fought win for us… really proud of the boys of the way we attacked it and obviously tough for us and was a real mental challenge, but we stuck to it and got the win which was really nice.”
McKenna said he couldn’t have asked for much more from his young midfield tyros, especially in the absence of their two-time premiership-winning teammate.
They didn’t get a break in the final quarter, either, with Charlie Dixon (calf), Sean Lemmens (concussion) and Trent McKenzie (hamstring) also finishing their nights early.
“There’s a void there, clearly, because Gary’s very good at that. He continues to coach the boys on- field,” McKenna said.
“For those boys to step in to the breach and carry it through. And probably more do it by actions, rather than verbally, because the game’s going.
“There’s a lot of positives that we did tonight without the ball in hand, and that was the sign you take great confidence away from the group that these boys have grown up.
“The blokes who just had to go a gear, they found that.”
At this stage Hawthorn tops the ladder, followed by Port Adelaide and the Swans all on 44 points.