Playing on Thursday afternoon outside Metricon Stadium, the SUNS reserves continued a hot form streak with another comprehensive performance against Geelong’s reserves. 

The SUNS controlled the tempo for much of the match and had the game played predominately in their forward half which was reflective in the scoring.

SUNS Media have examined some of the key takeaways from the match.

Rory returns:

Perhaps the biggest talking point heading into this scratch match was the long-awaited return for key defender Rory Thompson. Thompson is one of a few remaining foundation SUNS and has endured a tough period off the field rehabbing an injured ACL. His return on Thursday marked his first competitive match in almost two years and it was pleasing to see the big SUN get through unscathed. 

Thompson returned to his familiar post as a key defender and looked at home in his return. With the football up the other end of the field for a lot of the match, it was a smooth re-introduction to competitive football. However, he didn’t fail to get involved when the opportunity presented itself, testing out his recovered knee with an early chase-down tackle on his opposite number. Thompson also didn’t shy away from the contest, launching himself into packs to lay his knuckles on the football whenever the opposition threatened. Overall, it was a positive performance he can use to build some match fitness. 

Lock it in!:

The reason Geelong weren’t able to get any offensive drive out of their backline was due to the excellent work of the SUNS forwards and midfielders up the field. The SUNS were able to lock the ball into their forward 50 on multiple occasions, forcing the Cats to either kick long down the line or roll the dice with risky options through the corridor. 

The end result was a substantial number of forward 50 turnovers including a couple of intercept marks inside 50, largely due to the pressure being applied. It’s a whole-club formula which has trickled down from the AFL team and is being executed by the Reserves who continue to set the tone on game-day. The only blemish on the performance was Gold Coast’s lack of polish inside 50 to capitalise on the turnovers but the end result was an abundance of scoring shots. 

Flanders closing on AFL debut: 

He was in the mix this week to make his AFL debut, but Sam Flanders will have to wait a little longer as fellow draft classmate Jeremy Sharp gets his chance. But the 2019 pick 11 did his chances no harm again on Thursday with a prominent performance against the Cats. One of Flanders’ strengths is his ability to play as a damaging forward or explosive midfielder and he showed why that was the case on Thursday.

The 19-year-old exhibited his raw strength at stoppages on one occasion by bursting through a pack to earn the clearance after some clean work at ground level. He was also a fiend on the other side of the ball, harassing opposition defenders with his outstanding pressure. Flanders finished with a goal for his efforts and will be in the conversation once again at the selection table.