The SUNS were beaten but not bowed on Saturday night at Optus Stadium, with a second half fight-back not enough to secure the win against the reigning premiers West Coast.
It was ultimately an 11 goal to three opening half which cost the SUNS, but the team will take solace in knowing they were able to compete until the end.
The team at SUNS Media have broken down some key takeaways from the match.
It's the club mantra and Gold Coast stuck to it on Saturday night. Down by 39 points at the main break, the SUNS came out determined to claw their way back into the match in the second half.
A six goal to three third and fourth quarters saw the SUNS win the second half of the match and earn praise from Senior Coach Stuart Dew post-match. To come within two goals of the win late in the final quarter breathed new life into a game many though was over and also gave the team belief they can compete against any side. If the team can continue to exhibit this trait on gamedays it will give them every chance to secure wins. The area which needs improvement is arresting opposition momentum swings enough to stay in the game.
The SUNS’ ruckman got his hands on the ball often on Saturday night. Jarrod Witts had a season-high 60 hitouts against the depleted West Coast ruck department, and lifted his season average to 46 hitouts per game. Witts is leading the competition for hitouts in 2019.
Against the Eagles, Witts had 14 hitouts to advantage with a 60% win-rate in the ruck contests. He also followed up with 14 disposals around the ground. The next challenge for Witts will be converting his dominance in the ruck to clearances for his side, with the SUNS losing that area to West Coast on the weekend. If Witts can get his rapport with the midfielders running efficiently, it would go a long way to winning more games this season.