There was no love lost between the U18’s Academies as the SUNS beat the Brisbane Lions by a comfortable 28 points at Yeronga on Saturday.
In the first QClash of the season, the fierce cross-town rivalry was noticeable early, as physicality and aggression set the tone for a bruising game to come.
The SUNS got off to a positive start, capitalising on tackling pressure and strong contests to score the first two goals.
The arm wrestle of a game saw a seesawing scoreboard, with poor efficiency entering the forward 50 letting both teams down at different times.
The second quarter saw tensions flare, with ill-discipline from the SUNS and Lions leading to unnecessary free kicks and a tight two-point differential going into the main break.
Brisbane came out energised in the third, utilising their pacey wingers to penetrate the SUNS structure. However, strong pressure and spoils through the defensive 50 kept the pressing Lions at bay, with SUNS players Branden Deslandes and Max Pescud providing great counterattack from the halfback flanks.
With the Lions up by two points at three quarter time, the hungry SUNS stepped up to the plate in the fourth to score five unanswered goals and put the game out of reach.
Great lead up work from the Gold Coast forwards provided plenty of options for the gut running mids, who were given first use from ruckman Matt “Sauce” Conroy.
Kicking two goals in the last quarter and racking up 25 hitouts, Conroy said his influence was a result of the team playing equal roles across the ground.
“It was a good individual performance but it comes off the back of the rest of the team. I’m just happy I pulled my weight for the boys and we got the reward,” he told SUNS Media following the match.
Given the well-known ferocity of QClash, head coach Andrew Raines said both teams should be happy with their efforts around the contest but attributed a strong pre-season to the blossoming SUNS ability to overrun the Lions.
“Brisbane were outstanding in their contest but it was great to see our boys overrun the opposition," he said post-match.
"We’ve put in a big pre-season and we highlighted the need to run and cover the ground and they definitely did that today."
Raines also expressed his pride in the team playing their individual roles and believed that was the key to getting the game back on their terms in the last quarter.
“In the third quarter I thought we were playing the Lions game style a bit with the uncontested kick and owning the ball. And they definitely did that better than us, their skill and execution was better,” he said.
“The boys were told at three quarter time to stick to what they’re good at, which is run and carry, handball and play instinctive football.
"They were able to do that and win which I was happy about.”
At the final siren, the Gold Coast SUNS Academy comfortably defeated the Brisbane Lions Academy 10. 10. (70) to 5. 12. (42).
The 2 – 0 SUNS head into next week facing a tough opposition in the Oakleigh Chargers where they’ll hope to consolidate their solid start to the season.