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NEAFL: Match Report, Round 15

A Michael Barlow masterclass has inspired Gold Coast to a two-point victory over the GWS Giants at Spotless Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Despite dominating for the majority of the game, the Giants squandered several opportunities in front of goal in the 10.10 (70) to 8.20 (68) defeat.

The SUNS now move to six wins overall alongside the Giants and the Brisbane Lions, with only percentage separating the three teams from sixth place.

“In the last quarter, the boys really dug in,” SUNS coach Nick Malceski told neafl.com.au.

“They were challenged at three-quarter-time by myself and they really responded”.

The SUNS started very positively kicking the first two goals of the game inside the first five minutes courtesy of Emmanuel Baru and Connor Nutting.

The Giants then went on a run of five straight behinds before young midfielder Aiden Bonar finally broke the goal drought.

The Giants proceeded to kick the next three goals in the span of five minutes to gain the ascendancy.

Baru’s second goal late in the first quarter meant that the Giants would only go into the quarter time break with a lead of 10 points.

The second quarter played out very similarly to the first, with the Giants locking the ball in their forward 50. The Giants should have been in front by far more heading into the main break, but an inaccurate 1.8 meant that their biggest lead of the game was only 18 points.

Brayden Fiorini slotted a goal after the half-time siren to cut the margin at the main break down to only two goals and kept the SUNS in touch with an unlikely chance for a win.

In-form ruckman Matthew Flynn got the Giants to the perfect start after he kicked the crucial first goal of the third term to extend the Giants’ lead back to 18 points.

From that point, the SUNS took control of the game, thanks to the midfield duo of Barlow and Jesse Lonergan.

The SUNS began to get the ball inside-50 far more often than they had in the first half. However, just like the Giants, the SUNS were inaccurate in front of goal by kicking 1.6.

The SUNS had the chance to go into the final quarter less than a goal down but Kwaybe Boakye missed a simple set shot after the third quarter siren.

With the Giants nervously holding on to a slim nine-point lead at the final change, the SUNS came out with plenty of confidence in the final quarter. Zach Sproule snapped an important goal for the Giants to halt the SUNS’ comeback early in the last quarter.

However, the SUNS began to dig deep with goals to Boakye and Tui Lowah to reduce the margin to a single point after 20 minutes had passed. James Peatling looked to have kicked the sealer in the 23rd-minute mark but a goal to Fiorini only a minute later had the SUNS still with a real chance.

With two minutes left on the clock, SUNS Academy player Baru kicked his fourth goal of the game and the sealer to give the SUNS an incredible come-from-behind victory.

 

Barlow was phenomenal for the SUNS in his return from a jaw injury by both his actions on the field and his leadership.

Barlow had 15 touches to quarter time and ended the afternoon with 44 disposals, nine marks, six tackles, five rebound 50s, three clearances and three inside 50s in an incredible display.

“He’s massive for us…he drives our younger guys and our standards. It’s fantastic for him and if he continues in the way he’s going, he’ll get a recall pretty soon,” said Malceski.

Fiorini (36 disposals, 11 tackles, seven clearances, seven inside 50s and 2.1), Lonergan (31 possessions, six clearances, five tackles, four inside 50s and 1.1) and Pearce Hanley (31 disposals, seven-rebound 50s, four clearances and two inside 50s) in his return game were all among the SUNS’ best.

Brett Deledio was the best for the Giants with 32 touches, 13 clearances and five tackles, with Jeremy Finlayson a close second with 27 disposals, 10 inside 50s and seven rebound 50s.

Matthew Flynn also continued his impressive form with an astonishing 49 hit-outs as well as 19 disposals, four clearances, three inside 50s and a goal. Daniel Lloyd was also good in his first game back from injury but kicked a disappointing 0.4 from his 19 disposals.

Giants development coach Damien Truslove told neafl.com.au that the Giants attempted to suppress Barlow’s influence with a tag but were simply unable to.

“Nick Shipley had the role on Barlow but Barlow was fantastic today. We tried to take some of his influence out of the game but couldn’t,” he said.

The SUNS could enter the top six next week but will have to come up against the in-form team of the competition in the Sydney Swans while the Giants will look to bounce back after a disappointing loss against the Brisbane Lions next week at the Gabba.

 

GWS Giants v Gold Coast at Spotless Stadium

GOLD COAST 3.2 5.2 6.8 10.10 (70)
Giants 4.6 5.14 6.17 8.20 (68)

GOALS
Gold Coast: 
E Baru 4, B Fiorini 2, J Lonergan, K Boakye, T Lowah, C Nutting
Giants: Z Sproule 2, M Flynn, J Peatling, M Walker, D Buckley, N Shipley, A Bonar


BEST
Gold Coast:
 B Fiorini, M Barlow, E Baru, J Leslie, P Hanley, M Spencer
Giants: B Deledio, T Mohr, D Lloyd, M Flynn, M Buntine, J Peatling