SUNS Senior Coach Stuart Dew has challenged his players to avoid going back “into our shells” after a frustrating performance against Port Adelaide at Metricon Stadium in Round 14.
The SUNS managed the opening goal of the game through a Ben King major, but Port wrested control of the match from there to lead at each of the breaks.
Speaking post-game, Dew identified his SUNS team had to continue to strive to play the football it is capable of even when the game isn’t on its terms.
“We’ve got to have the courage to keep playing the way we want to play, whether or not that comes off, we've got to have that predictability to each other,” Dew said.
“Taking the game on isn't about playing on recklessly, but playing the way that we want to move the ball.
“A lot of it was our ball use, they got 10 of their goals from turnover, so we actually got our hands on the ball but again going back to the first point is our execution wasn't predictable to ourselves.”
Dew said the seasoned Port outfit were able to absorb pressure better than Gold Coast and the challenge for his team was to find ways to break the flow of play and earn control of the game.
“Teams will put you under that pressure and ask that question whether you want to keep playing at that intensity,” he said.
“Whether it's AFL or Burleigh Bombers you get challenged on how can you maintain your spark and energy.
“We're going to talk about when we're in these situations we don’t want it to go for 90 minutes; is it a five minute patch and we're able to get it back on our terms?
“That was the message at three quarter time - it was about, well we are right under the pump as a footy club and we talked about how we've had this pressure before.
“How many times have we succeeded to this point, and how many times we stepped in and actually gone back to how we want to play now?”
The SUNS executed more free-flowing football in the final quarter, kicking two goals to one after some positional changes from the coaching staff.
Jack Bowes went forward and kicked a goal, Nick Holman went back and Izak Rankine found himself around the ball more often as the SUNS looked to shake things up.
Dew said it offered an opportunity to test players in different areas as the SUNS prepare to make changes for the Round 15 with David Swallow and Lachie Weller sustaining injuries.
“Obviously Dave went down, had a head knock and Lachie Weller is a hamstring,” Dew said.
“So there was clearly a little shuffle with that, but then also going into the game it was a bit of a shuffle to get Noah Anderson a bit more midfield time and I thought he stood up.
“He’s a second year player and had 30-odd touches, was really clean and got great experience against guys like Ollie Wines and the likes.
“Obviously Rowelly is starting to get back in the rhythm so I think that there's some things to build over this next period.”
The SUNS travel to Tasmania to take on North Melbourne this weekend at 1:45pm on Saturday at Blundstone Arena.