Senior coach Stuart Dew has praised the SUNS’ hunger at the contest in Saturday night’s strong 37-point win against Hawthorn at the SCG.
The SUNS won each quarter on its way to a fourth win of the 2021 AFL season, as well as a season-high score with 17 majors for the contest.
Dew was pleased with his side’s contested work but conceded an area of focus will be limiting opposition scoring late in quarters.
“Our hunt around the ball, our contested ball numbers were really good,” Dew said.
“There were periods where we dropped off and let them back in, particularly with late goals. That’s disappointing and we talked about that, particularly at half time – I think five of their goals out of six [to half-time] had come late in quarters
“Although there’s some improved effort, there’s a bit to work on there.”
Touk Miller also earned Dew’s praise after the midfielder added another string to his bow of standout performances this season, finishing with a game-high 37 touches, 12 contested possessions, seven tackles and a goal.
“In my time at the footy club, he’s been ultra-consistent the whole time and he’s someone you know you can go to and know exactly what you’ll get,” Dew continued.
“He’s always looking at ways to improve, both the physical and mental parts of his game.
“The best players drive themselves – he’s self-driven, a professional athlete who has a real thirst for impacting and improving the footy club and we’re a better club with him around the place.
“Our challenge is to develop the next Touk Miller.”
And it was some of the SUNS young stars who stood tall in Sir Doug Nicholls Round with 2018 draft trio Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine and Ben King among the SUNS best.
Rankine and King both finished with four goals apiece, while only Miller and Brandon Ellis had more of the ball than Lukosius, who led all comers with 14 marks and a major of his own.
Fittingly, Rankine kicked three goals inside the first 15 minutes of the opening bounce of the Sir Doug Nicholls Round clash, before reaching a career-high mark with a fourth in the third term.
“People look at the goals column and see four and think he [Rankine] played really well, which he did. There have been other games where he’s been high in goal assists and score assists and we knew a performance like this wasn’t far away,” Dew continued.
“They [Rankine, Lukosius and King] are key cogs in our wheel and they’re developing really well.
“The work they’ve put in, they’re pros on and off the field, but they’re all different which is fantastic for us and they’re all quite flexible too.
“Particularly Jack, he’s played forward, he can play wing and he’s gone down back in the last couple of weeks. Izak has worked on his body and adjusting that to AFL level to the point where he played in the midfield for a fair bit tonight. We think he’s got a fair future in there too.