A young Gold Coast outfit caused a big upset at Fankhauser Reserve with an inspired 15-point victory over defending premier Southport on Saturday.
With only four players over the age of 20 on the field, the SUNS shot out of the blocks and had all the answers to Southport’s fightback, coming out on top 12.6 (78) to 9.9 (63) for the club’s third win of the season.
Languishing in ninth place on the ladder, Gold Coast started with a bang with three goals in four minutes to immediately have the Sharks on the back foot.
Southport kicked into gear, breaking even for the rest of the quarter to trail by 11 at the first change.
Jed Turner brought them back to within six points to start the second, but Gold Coast steadied through a long goal from veteran Michel Rischitelli and another from academy member Josh Gore in a low-scoring quarter.
Impressing with effort, intent and composure, Gold Coast made its move in the third, kicking three goals to one to open up a 29-point lead at the final break.
When Connor Nutting took a fantastic contested grab and converted a set shot within 60 seconds of the last quarter, the Sharks were suddenly staring down a 35-point deficit.
As expected, they came back hard and threw everything at the SUNS, but they withstood the charge. The sealer came when the SUNS broke out the back of a contest on the wing, transitioning to ball in to an open forward line where Brayden Crossley ran in to an open goal.
Southport finished with four goals to two in the last to reduce the final margin, but the damage was already done.
Rischitelli led his troops superbly, collecting 32 disposals nine tackles, nine clearances, six inside 50s and a goal. Tom Nicholls (49 hit-outs) won the ruck battle, and Brad Scheer was excellent in his return with 27 disposals, eight tackles and four clearances.
Jed Turner – in a ruck and forward role – battled hard all day to be among the Sharks better players. Tyler Roos (37 disposals) continued his good form in the midfield and former SUNS Mackenzie Willis (24 disposals) was another top contributor.
The Sharks loss over Gold Coast continues a five-year hoodoo over their cross-town rivals. Southport hasn’t beaten the SUNS since Round 14, 2014.
Both Southport and Gold Coast have the bye next week before tackling NT Thunder and Sydney respectively in Round 13.
Southport Sharks v Gold Coast SUNS at Fankhauser Reserve
GOLD COAST 5.1 7.3 10.4 12.6 (78)
SOUTHPORT 3.2 4.3 5.5 9.9 (63)
Gold Coast: J Gore 4 B Crossley 2 C Nutting 2 H Oea C Portelli M Rischitelli F Greenwool.
Southport: C Ford 2 J Shea 2 J Turner 2 T Roos T Bowie M Doran.
Gold Coast: M Rischitelli T Nicholls B Scheer C Burgess J Dawson J Gore.
Southport: J Turner M Willis T Roos C Ford.