After taking the challenge to West Coast throughout the afternoon, the SUNS weren’t able to hold on for what would have been an inspiring upset to open the season as the Eagles broke free in the final quarter at Optus Stadium on Sunday evening.

The SUNS took a slender lead into the final quarter, but the Eagles finished strongest with five final quarter goals seeing the hosts home by 25 points.

Despite the result, the clash provided plenty of talking points for SUNS Media to analyse.

Efficiency with the ball

SUNS supporters and players alike would have felt at ease whenever Jack Bowes got his hands on the Sherrin on Sunday with the defender working at an impeccable 100% disposal efficiency against the Eagles.

It was a rare statistic that was appropriately highlighted across social media in the aftermath of the game as each of Bowes’ team-high 30 touches, which included 28 kicks, found their target.

Only West Coast’s Dom Sheed (34 disposals) and Shannon Hurn (31 disposals) had more of the ball than Bowes, who also reeled in an equal game-high 14 marks.

Co-captain David Swallow was also at his prolific best in midfield, finishing with 29 touches and a goal.

‘No panic’ response

Despite watching the Eagles fly out to a three-goal lead in next to no time in front of a parochial Optus Stadium crowd, the response from the away side was one that will provide optimism for SUNS members and supporters.

Stuart Dew praised his side’s answer to the Eagles’ early onslaught with the SUNS booting four of the game’s next five goals, including two from Ben King who continues to flourish in a key role in the SUNS forward line.

The SUNS managed to wrestle back the lead at stages in both the second and third quarters, taking the challenge to the home side particularly throughout the third quarter with another positive response to an early goal after half-time from the Eagles.

A strong start in front of a home crowd for the first time in 2021 this Saturday night is sure to be high on the agenda.

Fuelling the fire

A gallant display in a contest which just got away from the SUNS late in the piece will fuel the fire in the team ahead of Saturday’s Round 2 fixture against the Kangaroos at Metricon Stadium.

As said by Jack Bowes post-match, the SUNS were unable to make the most of their opportunities and “put the nail in the coffin,” opening the door for the Eagles whose experience shone through when the game was on the line in the final quarter.

The sting of Sunday’s defeat will provide fuel for the playing group moving forward according to Stuart Dew who says the response from his players in Saturday’s clash against the Kangaroos will be a strong marker of where his side are at.