“One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn’t belong
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?”
HINT: IT’S THE GOLD COAST SUNS.
This is going to be a scathing review on the back of the handout package Gil has seen fit to bestow on the Suns, so if you are a GC fan (unicorns) maybe avert your eyes and pretend that everything is fine in the world.
What Went Right?
Their plane didn’t fall out of the sky during an interstate flight, ummm…
Look, very little went right. They did however have a 3-1 win-loss record going into round 5 which they lost by 73 points to Adelaide. They then went on an absolute tear, losing their next 17 games (18 straight losses).
They will take heart from some of the sustained performances from a few younger guys; Fiorini was a revelation throughout the year, averaging 25 disposals, Swallow played arguably his best and most consistent season (playing 22 games helps!) and Jarrod Witts was an absolute monster in the ruck, ranking 2nd in total hit-outs, and 1st in hitouts per game. Sexton was prolific in front of goal early, but seemed to fade in the last half of the season.
The Suns will be buoyed by the emergence of youngsters in King, Bowes, Ainsworth and MacPherson – King in particular looks a commanding figure, although the Suns will have a battle on their hand to keep hold of the Key Position player as the Saints try to entice a reunion with his Brother, Max. The younger brigade will need to take the next step if they are any chance to improve in 2020.
What Went Wrong?
Apart from the blatantly obvious – (18 losses on the trot), heaps. Injuries to Rory Thompson, Hanley, Bowes, Collins, Hombsch and Rankine certainly didn’t help their cause throughout the year, but really, they were just downright terrible in most facets of play.
Disposals per game, points per game, inside 50’s per game, Opponent disposals per game, goal assists per game. All things that the Suns are ranked 18th for (there are a heap of others but this paints the picture). They were just unable to get the ball, they were unable to stop the opposition getting the ball, they struggled to penetrate into their attacking arc and they leaked goals like the proverbial kitchen utensil.
They are a young list, sure, but it seems as though they will always be this way, the continual procession of young talent coming and going in return for early picks perpetuating the view that they will always be in a rebuild of sorts, they’re basically the football equivalent of Haiti.
Round 3 Vs Western Bulldogs
Gold Coast wasn’t supposed to win a game in 2019. At least that is what I surmised using that ladder predictor thing (I also surmised that the Saints would finish top 4..) Imagine my surprise then, when they managed to knock off Fremantle in round 2! It was a toss-up between the two games to select as the Suns’ top perfomance, but I picked this game due to the fact that the Suns managed to lead from the get-go and in the end, managed to hold on for grim death against the barnstorming Bulldogs.
The Suns raced out of the blocks, kicking the first 4 goals of the match, finishing the quarter with 6 goals to the Bulldog’s 2. They looked bold in their play, moving the ball forward with haste and direction, their disposal holding up and their structures working, particularly in defence.
The Bulldogs came alive midway through the second, although they failed to capitalise on their opportunities, finishing the first half with 4.8, trailing by 16 points.
The third term saw both teams in lockstep, trading blows, Swallow bobbed up for his second goal 13 minutes in, and Jack Martin was looking dangerous, with numerous scoring opportunities.
The final term was where it started to heat up, Dunkley kicked his second in the second minute, before Miles responded with one of his own shortly after. The final 10 minutes is where things got scary for the Suns, with the bulldogs dominating attacking play, kicking the final 3 goals of the game. The Gold Coast defence was under siege, but managed to hold up.
The Dogs had their chance with 30 seconds to go, but Gowers was unable to convert, and the Suns recorded their second victory, surprising the shit out of the vast majority of punters, running out 5 point victors.
Witts was huge in the ruck, dominating the hitouts, recording 51 of the bastards, while Fiorini was influential (27 disp) also.
Room For Improvement
I went to Seattle in July, and visited the Boeing factory. It is huge, 13,385,378 m3 huge. It is a big shed, which is like a big room. If we take that shed, and build two more like it, and then connect those sheds together, and then build two more and add a second storey, that ridiculously large room would not be enough to contain the amount of room for improvement there is for the Suns.
They need a midfield. Fiorini is a good young player, Miller is ok-ish, and Bowes looks to be a good prospect. What they really could do with is a battle-hardened mid that can show these boys the way of it, guide them into making better decisions that will ultimately result in the team not being absolutely shell-shocked by a blitzkrieg of ball transitioning into their defensive 50.
Gold Coast also need some Forward firepower. Peter Wright hasn’t lived up to his potential and in the absence of Tom Lynch, they really need to find some taller timber to fit in down there, Alex Sexton can’t keep doing it all for them, and by all reports, Ben King will be at St.Kilda in 2020.
In the last few days it has been reported that the Suns have enquired about Treloar, which would be a great get but ultimately, an unrealistic option. Nobody is moving from a top 4 club, one of the biggest supporter bases in the nation, that played in a grand final 12 months ago, to a basket case nursery for draft picks in a sporting wasteland. Sorry, that’s just reality – they need to focus on gettable targets.
I also believe they need to forsake the draft this year. Get some experience and look to trade out those early picks for players that can have an impact, hopefully jump-starting the Suns in 2020.
Masten has been linked to Gold Coast, he would help. Masten comes from a West Coast, a team that is a perennial power-house and would bring with him a wealth of cultural and game experience.
Brad Crouch would be a huge addition, but it will take dollars and picks – one would imagine pick 2 would need to go to the Crows as part of any deal – and bugger it, try to get Jenkins to help up forward and provide Witts a decent chop-out in the ruck.
They need to be bold and trade the first pick. Aim for those that seem gettable in clubs that are struggling/have already had premiership success. Angus Brayshaw, Ben Cunnington, Andrew Gaff, Luke Parker….just do it.
Was one of the few shining lights in a season as grim as a party in Josef Fritzl’s basement. As mentioned earlier, he was massive in hit-outs, and was more than handy around the ground. One would think that if Gold Coast’s mids can take the next step, the big fella’s craft will be more prominent in future seasons.
Season Grade – D
I give them a D, It would have been an F, but they started the year well winning 3 games – 3 more than I thought they would.