A season opener to remember for many of the SUNS players at Metricon Stadium on Saturday afternoon but unfortunately not the result they would have all been hoping for, going down 9.2.56 to 5.5.35
A Demons side led by Karen Paxman, fought their way back into the game with a five goal to none second quarter which in the end proved the difference.
Karen Paxman The four-time All Australian was sublime in the hot and humid conditions, racking up 19 of her 25 disposals in the decisive first half of the 9.2 (56) to 5.5 (35) victory.
A tight first quarter in which debutant Bess Keaney (9 disposals) helped the Gold Coast to a seven-point lead at the break.
After half time the SUNS side bought their trademark pressure around the contest and were able to put the quiet second quarter behind them to fight out the remainder of the game.
An experienced Melbourne side however were able to see out the game and held on despite the SUNS best efforts.
Jamie Stanton (18 disposals) worked hard in an outgunned midfield, while Sarah Perkins (two goals) made a promising start for her third club.
Young gun Daisy D’arcy worked her way into the game and looked comfortable across half back while Madison Levi made a big first impression with some big tackles.
Did you see that?
It was hard to not smile at the performance of Sarah Perkins. Running out for the first time in SUNS colours after previous stints with Adelaide and Melbourne, Perkins had a wonderful debut. She took a contested mark and goaled on the quarter-time siren and then added another in the third. Not only were her 11 disposals eye-catching, but the three tackles and willingness to play high up the ground made the Suns look far more dangerous in attack than any stage in 2020.
Five minutes of madness
Melbourne split the game wide open with three quick goals in the second quarter. Trailing by a point at the five-minute mark, Krstel Petrevski gave the Demons the lead when she cleverly roved a marking contest and snapped truly on her right boot. Shelley Heath and Tegan Cunningham then cashed in from close range following 50m penalties and the visitors never looked back.
With most of the traditional stats – contested possessions, clearances, scoring shots and inside 50s – close to equal, it was Melbourne's aerial dominance that really shone. They hauled in 10 contested marks to Gold Coast's four, with tall forward Tegan Cunningham, who was a handful for Jade Pregelj all day, and ruck Lauren Pearce particularly powerful in the air. The Dees were able to get deep entires inside their forward 50 and either mark or create a contest for their crumbers.
"They're the simplest of things (50m penalties) and the girls are so apologetic, but they're the simple things that cost you. Before you know it it's three goals and then you go the other end yourself and don't kick your chance and the gap just widens that little bit more." - Gold Coast coach David Lake
The Demons will attempt to make it two-from-two when they return to Melbourne to host Richmond next Saturday at Casey Fields from 6.10pm (AEDT). Gold Coast will also play in Melbourne, a little earlier that afternoon, when travelling to Victoria Park to play Collingwood from 4.10pm (AEDT).
GOLD COAST 3.1 3.3 5.4 5.5 (35)
MELBOURNE 2.0 7.1 9.1 9.2 (56)
Gold Coast: Perkins 2, Stanton, Kaslar, Perry
Melbourne: Cunningham 2, Hore 2, Petrevski 2, Zanker, Mithen, Heath
Gold Coast: Stanton, Perkins, Keaney, Ahrens, Drennan
Melbourne: Paxman, Mithen, McNamara, L.Pearce, Cunningham, Hanks
Gold Coast: Bradfield (knee)
Crowd: 1902 at Metricon Stadium