The SUNS AFLW team had their first competitive hit-out of 2021 on the weekend, with two weeks to go until the NAB AFLW season kicks off.

Coming up against a competitive Brisbane Lions outfit in a wet weather showdown, the SUNS showed plenty of promise despite the 4.2 (26) to 6.7 (43) scoreline in favour of Brisbane.

Here’s what we learnt from the practice match.

QClash rivalry set to resume:

With the first ever AFLW QClash in 2020 ending in a draw, there’s some unfinished business for both teams heading in to the new season. That was evident on the weekend with no shortage of physicality in the difficult conditions. The Lions were able to get out to a quick start before two SUNS goals in the second quarter to Kalinda Howarth and Sam Virgo cut the margin to three points. It was a see-sawing affair from there, with neither side able to hold the momentum for longer than a quarter as the two clubs traded blows on the scoreboard. It sets up what will be a thrilling QClash sequel when the SUNS host the Lions in a scheduled Round 5 matchup at Metricon Stadium.

New recruits shine:

All nine of Gold Coast’s newest additions played in the match on Saturday for the first official time in SUNS colours. We saw Sarah Perkins in the forward line alongside Madi Levi – who also rotated through the ruck in the second half and was eye-catching with her aggression at ground level. Annise Bradfield, Alison Drennan and Lucy Single all spent time through the midfield and looked comfortable alongside their new teammates. Bess Keaney looked at home in defence, while Daisy D’Arcy, Wallis Randell and Janet Baird all had time rotating through the back half as well. Perkins and Drennan already have AFLW experience, but for the others it was their first taste of women’s football at the highest level and they didn’t look out of place.

Shuffling the magnets:

AFLW Senior Coach David Lake wasn’t afraid to try new things on Saturday. We saw Kalinda Howarth in defence, Sam Virgo and Serene Watson in the forward line and Leah Kaslar in the midfield to name a few. It gives Lake plenty of flexibility with his squad should he need to change things up as the season progresses. Now is the perfect time to experiment heading into Round 1, but how many of these changes we see when the season kicks off – who knows?