In a heart-stopper at Metricon Stadium on Sunday afternoon, the Gold Coast SUNS came agonisingly close to another win in front of a home crowd.

Despite the result, it was an extremely pleasing performance by the SUNS and some key takeaways from the match have been broken down below.

A Kingly effort:

In just his first year playing against men, Ben King had a breakout game and was outstanding against the Bombers. The 19-year-old almost won the game off his own boot, kicking four goals for the match and three in the final quarter alone.

King finished with nine possessions (seven contested), five marks (three contested) and six score involvements, including a direct goal assist. What made his performance even more impressive was the fact he was playing on All-Australian defender Cale Hooker, an aerial specialist, and out-marked him on several occasions. King’s efforts were enough to earn him a JLT Mark of the Year nomination and Rising Star nomination in the same week.

Capable in the contest:

What was perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the match against the Bombers was the SUNS’ ability to match them in the contest. With Jarrod Witts giving Gold Coast the dominance in the ruck, the SUNS were able to win the clearance count and the contested possessions for the match.

It’s a big tick for the SUNS game plan which relies on the contested brand of football and a credit to Gold Coast’s midfielders who were able to contain a dangerous Essendon on-ball unit. While the statistics alone don’t determine the result of a match, winning those two areas certainly goes a long way towards contributing to a team’s victory.

Breaking the scoring shackles: 

Gold Coast’s key forwards were certainly a shining light in the match on the weekend. Sam Day, Peter Wright and Ben King contributed nine goals straight between them and helped the SUNS to its highest score for the season. The trio also combined to take 14 marks.

The SUNS midfielders were also able to hit the scoreboard, with one each to Brayden Fiorini, David Swallow and Touk Miller. It led Senior Coach Stuart Dew to say this post-game: “We want to make sure we hit the scoreboard and play an exciting brand of football. Like we saw tonight if we can move it a little bit slicker and quicker with different method, 15 goals is a good result for us.” The final score of 96 is the SUNS’ highest total since Round 2, 2018.