The Gold Coast SUNS men’s team had their first competitive hit out of the year on the weekend, coming up against a solid Brisbane Lions outfit at Metricon Stadium.
The match was played in difficult humid conditions, with clean ball skills at a premium.
Assistant Coach Ash Prescott said it was pleasing to see the squad fight hard against a high-quality opponent.
“It was fantastic after a long pre-season of playing and training against each other to get out against a good opposition in the Brisbane Lions,” Prescott told SUNS Media.
“It was a really good hit out in really difficult conditions.
“You could see the team play the system that we want and it was fantastic to see some of the younger guys come in and contribute really well.”
The focus for Prescott and the rest of the coaching panel was less on the result and more on seeing the team implementing the teachings from pre-season.
“You spend a lot of time during the pre-season working on certain elements whether that’s with the ball on offense or some of our defensive structures also,” Prescott said.
“So the focus was that but also for the players to go out and really work hard for four quarters.
“In a game like that you’re going to have a varying amount of players play different game times as part of their individual preparation leading up to Round 1.
“Everyone got through unscathed which was really positive and we got some good game minutes into a lot of the players.”
It was also the first time fans had the chance to see the club’s new recruits in action.
Top-two draftees Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson got plenty of time through the midfield while fellow first-year player Jeremy Sharp looked comfortable in defence.
Ruck recruit Zac Smith shouldered most of the load at stoppages while the club’s rookies Connor Budarick, Malcolm Rosas Jnr, Patrick Murtagh, Matthew Conroy, Jy Farrar and Hewago Paul Oea all got game-time.
“I just love them playing footy,” Prescott said of the new SUNS.
“They’re such an exciting group of different, unique individuals.
“Jy Farrar when he got in really contributed well and we know Rowell and Anderson came in and contributed fantastically and most importantly played a great brand of SUNS football.
“I could go through all those young players and they were really well led by some of the senior players too.”
The SUNS will continue to operate in “game week” during training this week, looking ahead to the first Marsh Community Series match against Geelong on Saturday at Metricon Stadium in what will be a double header with the AFLW QClash.
“What you’re looking for in the second game is just an increased intensity,” Prescott said of the upcoming match.
“We’ll probably play a shorter list of players, we had a lot of rotations and a lot of players went off after halftime so as a match committee we’ll look at that and possibly narrow the squad.
“It will be much of the same – a chance to practice our systems and our structures, good game-time minutes and practice our SUNS brand of football.”