The SUNS recorded their first win of 2020 in thrilling fashion against West Coast on Saturday night at Metricon Stadium.
Stuart Dew and his team set out to atone for a disappointing Round 1 and made a statement with the 44-point win over the premiership contenders.
There were a number of factors in Gold Coast’s win and SUNS Media have broken down some key takeaways from the match.
The game-plan stacks up:
Since he arrived at the club, Stuart Dew has made it his mission to develop a sustainable brand of football which stands up to the rigours of finals football. While the SUNS are yet to play in the finals, they have added layers to the game-plan each season and were able to beat a full-strength team which won the premiership in 2018 and has played finals for five straight seasons. It was a great yardstick to measure the team’s progress against.
Gold Coast’s hard-running, manic-pressure game-style went into overdrive on Saturday night and it showed. The SUNS forced 69 turnovers during the match and hunted the football with relentless energy. Even late in the final quarter there were moments where multiple red and gold jumpers streamed back in defence and rushed up to pressure their opposition. The desire to work back and defend was just as high as the desire to push forward and score which was a big reason why the team was able to get across the line.
What made Gold Coast so dangerous on Saturday night was the ability of multiple players to find their way to the goals. The SUNS had 11 goal-scorers for the night, exactly half the team.
There were the usual suspects of Sam Day, Ben King and Ben Ainsworth hitting the scoreboard but it was the added contributions from the midfield which really made the team dangerous in the forward half. Matt Rowell, Lachie Weller, Noah Anderson and Hugh Greenwood all scored goals from the midfield, elevating their individual performances to the next tier. The balance means the SUNS don’t have to rely on the tall forwards to do all the work and can reap the rewards in different situations.
The future steps up:
It’s not surprising that the likes of Ben King, Jack Lukosius, Lachie Weller, Jack Bowes, Ben Ainsworth, Wil Powell and Brayden Fiorini were all instrumental in the win on Saturday. These players make up the young core of Gold Coast’s future and are starting to flourish in their roles.
Add in the raw power of Matt Rowell, the polish of Noah Anderson and the decision-making of Connor Budarick and the SUNS line-up possesses plenty of spark and talent. The challenge this season will be maintaining the consistency and making performances like in Round 2 the expectation not the exception.