A young SUNS side ran out onto the ground for Round 1 of the new look VFL competition against Footscray at Whitten Oval on Saturday morning.
14 listed players were joined by eight SUNS academy players against an experienced Bulldogs outfit boasting the likes of Mitch Wallis and Ling Jong alongside 2020 number 1 pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.
Brayden Fiorini captained the team for the first game of the season with the club adopting a rolling captaincy model giving the opportunity for players to develop their leadership skills throughout the year.
The SUNS lined up with Patrick Murtagh, Joel Jeffrey, Hewago Paul Oea and Malcolm Rosas Jnr in the forward line for the first centre bounce of the campaign.
With Fiorini and Jeremy Sharp starting the game on the wing, the centre bounce featured young SUN Alex Davies alongside Rory Atkins and Will Brodie.
Jack Hombsch held the key position post down back and was joined by Jordan Murdoch, Jez McLennan, Aiden Fyfe and Rhys Nicholls in the back six.
The SUNS kicked the first two points of the day but it was the Bulldogs who got off to a bright start kicking the first five goals of the quarter.
Patrick Murtagh took a strong mark 20 metres out from goal on a slight angle after Fiorini went long from outside 50. The young athletic forward went back and kicked the SUNS first goal, reducing the Bulldogs lead to 24 points at the first break.
Footscray kicked the next three goals before Murtagh and Oea both missed tough set shots and Brodie hit the post from 35m out.
Academy member Austin Harris got the SUNS on the board in the second after Sharp found him out the back running directly towards goal and his set shot sailed through.
Murtagh was once again on the scoreboard as he bagged his second of the afternoon with a set shot late in the second to bring the margin down to 43 at the main break.
Austin Harris kicked his second of the afternoon and the SUNS only goal of the third quarter when Reeves centered the ball inside 50 from a holding the ball free kick, but the dogs extended their lead with a three goal to one third term.
Will Brodie got the SUNS on the board first in the final quarter with a strong contested mark just outside the goal square and finished cleverly.
A brilliant chain down the wing involving multiple players in the fourth was definitely one of the highlights of the afternoon for the SUNS with strong run and carry from Oea leading to a clean entry inside 50 and a strong mark and goal from Reeves.
Fiorini 30 disposals was a standout for the SUNS while Brodie (28) Sharp (23) and Rory Atkins (23) all finished with 20+ disposals whilst Harris and Murtagh both kicked 2 goals, with the latter probably ruing missed opportunities after 6 shots in total for the day.
Of the younger SUNS brigade Hewago Oea, Malcolm Rosas Jnr and Jez McLennan alongside academy members Reeves and Harris all had some nice moments throughout the afternoon.
Footscray finishing with 16.13.109 to the SUNS 6.6.42 to win by 67 points at Whitten Oval.
Q1 SUNS 1.2.2 v Dogs 5.2.32
Q2 SUNS 3.4.22 v Dogs 10.5.65
Q3 SUNS 4.4.28 v Dogs 13.10.88
Q4 SUNS 6.6.42 v Dogs 16.13.109
Goals: Murtagh, Harris, (2) Brodie, Reeves (1)