The SUNS were unable to run down North Melbourne in the final quarter of Saturday’s Round 15 fixture at Blundstone Arena, going down by nine points.
The Suns looked threatening in the second quarter, but faded away and were overrun by the Roos 9.18(72) to 9.9(63).
North looked up and about early, dominating possession and taking advantage of a stiff Hobart breeze to move the ball fluidly across the ground.
Luke Davies-Uniacke and Cam Zurhaar were prolific early, racking up eight disposals and slotting a goal apiece in the opening term.
But Gold Coast fought back, with Josh Corbett’s back-to-back goals leaving the Suns only 10 points in arrears at the first change.
The Suns came out of the blocks hard in the second quarter, recording four inside-50s in the opening two minutes of play.
They defended the corridor better than in the opening quarter, forcing the Kangaroos wide and slowing down their ball movement.
The Suns booted four goals to North Melbourne’s one in the second quarter, with Corbett converting a glorious overhead contested mark just seconds before half-time to give the Suns an eight-point lead at the main break.
North’s Nick Larkey booted back-to-back goals in the third quarter to wrestle the ascendancy back from the Suns, and could have had another but selflessly let Josh Mahony have the honour.
The Kangaroos’ third-quarter dominance with the ball was reflected on the scoreboard, making the most of their turn with the breeze to kick three goals while the Suns only managed one.
With North Melbourne eleven points up at the final break, Zurhaar pushed the margin even further out early in the final term, kicking against the breeze to record his second major of the afternoon.
Hugh Greenwood kicked a much-needed goal for the Suns, but it was too little too late.
Where to now for the Suns?
While the Suns’ effort against the Roos can’t be questioned, they trod a familiar path on Saturday afternoon. The Suns piled on the pressure in the second quarter but fell away fast, again showing an inability to fight for four quarters. The Suns have been mercurial this season, showing glimpses of their ability, yet completely capitulating when the going got tough. Against the Roos, the Suns again showed flashes of brilliance and intent, but couldn’t hold strong enough for long enough with any momentum seized short-lived. The Suns are at arguably their lowest ebb under Stuart Dew, with the club stuck at the lower end of the ladder for a fourth consecutive year despite a stable of high draft picks and young talent. Frustrations are surely building, and something needs to change if the Suns are to take any positives out of the 2021 season.
Battle of the Bens
Under the setting Hobart sun, a curious battle played out in Gold Coast’s forward line on Saturday afternoon. Two players, who both arguably live in the shadows of their respective AFL-listed twin brothers went head-to-head. North’s Ben McKay had the job of shutting down Suns spearhead Ben King, who has been enjoying a prolific season in front of the sticks. While McKay’s twin brother Harry is a Coleman Medal fancy at Carlton, McKay has had a solid season in defence for North, regularly tasked with shutting down the oppositions key forward. King’s twin brother Max’s inaccuracy in front of goal has dominated headlines recently, while Ben has been quietly getting the job done for Gold Coast. In Hobart however, North Melbourne’s Ben won the battle, keeping King goalless for only the second time this season.
After booting five goals in the VFL last week, Josh Corbett made a triumphant return to senior football. With Ben King quiet, Corbett gave the Suns a strong target up forward. The 190cm tall forward booted back-to-back goals in the first quarter, showing his strong overhead marking ability. Corbett’s leading patterns and strong body work saw him take two impressive grabs, but most importantly he managed to convert both times. His goals came at a crucial time for the Suns, with the early two chipping away at North Melbourne’s lead and helping the Suns get a little momentum. His third came just seconds before half-time, giving the Suns an eight-point lead at the main break. His second half was quiet by comparison, but his early impact was instrumental in giving the Suns a sniff.
NORTH MELBOURNE 4.4(28) 5.8(38) 8.14(63) 9.18(72)
GOLD COAST 3.0(18) 7.4(46) 8.4(53) 9.9(63)
North Melbourne: Larkey 3, Zurhaar 2, Davies-Uniacke, Simpkin, Turner, Mahony
Gold Coast: Corbett 3, Ainsworth, Ellis, Sexton, Flanders, Smith, Greenwood
North Melbourne: Cunnington, Goldstein, Zurhaar, Davies-Uniacke, Simpkin
Gold Coast: Miller, Ellis, Corbett, Markov
North Melbourne: None
Gold Coast: Anderson
North Melbourne: Bosenavulagi (unused)
Gold Coast: Fiorini (unused)