The SUNS players will be rueing a slow start to their first practice match of the season against a strong Brisbane Lions side.
In one of the Gold Coast’s most humid days in a long time the ball was tough to handle but a Lions side that made the preliminary final last year kicked seven goals to one in the first.
Cam Rayner won the game's first centre clearance, handballed to Lachie Neale who pinpointed a pass to Daniher who marked and goaled from 50m.
It was the first of seven successive Brisbane goals to start the game as the Lions punished any Gold Coast mistakes.
Alex Sexton, Chris Burgess and Wil Powell all entered the interchange rotations at quarter time after sitting out the first quarter.
The SUNS looked far more like themselves after quarter-time and held their own for the final three quarters bringing their trademark competitiveness and pressure around the ground.
After a strong off season, Will Brodie found plenty of the footy and finished with two goals as did livewire forward Izak Rankine including a spectacular (which he made look easy) finish from the pocket.
Ben Ainsworth came into the game more in the second half including a couple of shots on goal.
Sean Lemmens looked right at home as he transitioned back into the back six where his career at the SUNS began.
New Recruit Oleg Markov played well, setting up plenty of the SUNS offensive forays from the back half.
After quarter time the margin never really changed with both sides fighting it out, with the lions winning by seven goals.
Final Score at Metricon Stadium Brisbane Lions 15.12 (102) to Gold Coast 8.7 (55)
Richmond recruit Oleg Markov was a real bright spark for the Suns, dashing from defence a number of times, including one second-half effort that resulted in a Ben Ainsworth goal. He was also physical and added some presence to the Suns' defence.
After missing most of last year with a dislocated shoulder, Matt Rowell played the first half before sitting the second. The No.1 draft pick was highly involved but looked a little rusty with a few fumbles and being run down from behind once. The star midfielder will be much better for the run. Noah Anderson was promising, playing more minutes on-ball than he did in 2020. Izak Rankine kicked two goals – including one freakish effort from the right forward pocket – and roamed up to stoppages regularly, while Connor Budarick was solid in defence.
Round one bolters
Young SUN Sam Flanders – who played five games last season – was energetic in the forward line and his pressure should have him knocking on the door.
Gold Coast's Sean Lemmens made a good fist of his move from the forward line to defence, spending a nice amount of time on Charlie Cameron and rotating between Brisbane's other smalls. Jack Lukosius played on a wing after spending all of 2020 in defence. He was quiet early but worked into the game with his kicking even more damaging forward of centre.
For Gold Coast, Ben Ainsworth kicked goals, made tackles and racked up disposals.