One of Gold Coast’s biggest improvement areas in 2020 has been the team’s defence.
In 2019, opposition teams were scoring in excess of 100 points per game on the SUNS, but that figure has reduced drastically this season.
Through eight rounds, the SUNS are now conceding just 60 points per game.
When normalised for the reduced game times, that figure works out to a 25% improvement in scores conceded from last season for the SUNS.
One of the key drivers in this area has been leadership group member Sam Collins, who is ranked second in the AFL in intercept marks and third in intercept possessions.
Collins said it had been a focus for the SUNS this year and was a result of the whole team’s dedication to applying pressure up the field.
“When the attackers look up they don’t have too much time to scan and find a free target,” Collins told SUNS Media.
“I think that’s really been helpful for us in the backline and we’ve been able to play good football on the back of that.
“I think as a backline group it’s just bought us a bit more time and given us a bit more time to be organised behind the ball.
“From there we can play to our natural strengths.”
While Collins has been a standout in the back half, he hasn’t been left to battle alone with the likes of Charlie Ballard, Jack Lukosius and Connor Budarick taking the next step in their development.
They all bring a distinct skillset which Collins says has helped the group remain stable in 2020.
“To be playing with a consistent back six or seven, I don’t think we’ve had too many changes back down there and that continuity makes it a lot easier for all of us.
“You know what everyone’s going to bring; you know Charlie’s going to roll off where he can, you know Luko’s a great user of the football.
“So you just try to play to each other’s strengths and complement each other where we can.”
The defenders face arguably their biggest challenge this weekend when they take on GWS on Sunday afternoon at Metricon Stadium.
The Giants’ forward line boasts the likes of reigning Coleman Medallist Jeremy Cameron, as well as premier small forward Toby Greene who is fresh off a five-goal haul against Richmond.
But their star-power doesn’t faze Collins who believes his defensive group is more than up to the task if they can stick to the same fundamentals which have brought success this season.
“I think we just need to roll out with the same football that we’ve been playing for the last few weeks,” he said.
“We need that high pressure and high accountability through the midfield and the forward line.
“As defenders we need to make sure that we’re on our best defensive craft.
“We’ve got Cameron, Finlayson, Himmelberg and Toby Greene so it’s not as if they’re players who can go under the radar.
“We all need to make sure we’re bringing our best and helping each other out where we can and not leaving each other out one on one.”