Has the Sun set on Gold Coast’s 2020 season?
After a strong start to the season, after their defeat to Carlton, the Suns now have just one win from their last nine games. While they have had trio of close results in this time, it is starting to have the smell of their finish to the 2019 season.
Similarly well placed after four rounds, the 2019 Suns lost their last 18 games on the way to the wooden spoon. They way this year’s team performed against Carlton, and in the second half against Richmond, there is cause to question whether they will win again in 2020.
We won’t have to wait long for an answer, with their best chance for a win coming next round against the 17th placed Kangaroos. While they will need to be much better than they were against the Blues, they should start favourites. It is fair to say, with matches against Brisbane, Collingwood and Hawthorn to follow, they may not win another game if they can’t beat North Melbourne.
How the Game was Won
Despite this being one of the more lopsided contests this season, Carlton’s inaccuracy in front of goal meant that the scoreboard did not reflect it until late in the match. While the final margin was a comfortable 33 points, the scoring shot differential of 25-7 was a truer reflection of the difference between the two sides. In the end, while the Blues found it difficult to find the goals, the Suns were equally incapable of moving the ball to their end of the ground.
As a result of this twin incompetency, there was a strange sense of the match being well under Carlton’s control but within reach for Gold Coast if they could string together 15 quality minutes. There was no more stark example of this than when Lachie Weller kicked the Suns third goal of the match in time on in the third quarter. Despite Carlton having 11 more scoring shots, this goal made the difference just 21-points. If not for Ed Curnow’s immediate reply, the match would have remained in the balance at the final change.
Carlton’s shear weight of numbers won out in the end though. By the time the siren rang to put the Suns and those watching the game out of their misery, the statistics told the story of the Blues total domination. Turning a +7 in clearances into a +94 for possessions, they were able to set up camp in their forward half which translated into a 54-26 inside 50 count.
This wasn’t just a case of winning the ball in the middle and everything looking after itself though. Their work rate around the ground was a class above that of their opposition. Whether it be a stronger attack on the ball that saw them win the contested ball by 41 or their desire to run and present which saw them win uncontested ball by 70, their intensity was too much for the Suns.
It does need to be said, that as different as the two teams effort levels in this match so too was their fixture load coming into it. As enjoyable as the AFL’s Footy Frenzy was for those at home, it has led to a big discrepancy in how often these two teams have played.
While the Blues last played on Saturday, the Suns closed out Round 12 on Monday night. Whereas this was Gold Coast’s fifth game in August it was only the third for Carlton. That said, as mitigating a factor as this is, Stuart Dew would be livid that his team could manage just four more tackles despite Carlton having the ball a whole seven minutes more than them during the game.
What the Coaches Said
Really flat at the start. Lost too many one on ones, i think we conceded five marks in the first quarter inside 50. So we were on the back foot from the start. The disappointing part is that we have got to find a way that when things aren’t going well or when the opposition is playing well, how can we arrest momentum. We were unable to do that tonight. Which is disappointing. We hardly saw glimpses to be honest of where we have been. We have got to regroup. Regroup together, get back home and train. We’ll have a bit of a chance to train aswell which will be important.
Dew refused to use the workload as an excuse. “Potentially in a distance covered but its no excuse for our lack of one on one contests that we lost. So, not at all in that sense,” he answered whether it had an impact. “I think we have got to be better in the contest.”
“When your there, you’ve done the work to get there we lost our feet too fast. Far too often we got outnumbered around the ball, -39 ground balls, contested [possessions] -43, so you can’t win games of footy like that. That’s where the game is won and lost. The recovery and workload is secondary to that.”
After a comprehensive performance from his team, David Teague was most pleased by his team’s effort. I thought the way we competed [pleased him most],” he said post match. “We knew it was going to be challenging. Particularly when the boys start sweating the ball gets slippery but I thought they way we competed allowed us to get the ball in our half. That [the way the Blues competed] is what excited me the most.”
Teague identified his team’s setup as important in their adapting to the difficult conditions. “I thought in terms of adapting I thought we structured up well,” he said. “Our balance around the contest was strong which allowed us to compete. Probably we didn’t finish off our work in front of goal, that was set shots aswell as others, I know there were quite a few rushed. but overall I was really happy with the balance of using the ball or getting the ball forward under pressure.”
GOLD COAST 0.0 2.0 3.2 4.3 (27)
CARLTON 1.4 5.7 6.11 7.18 (60)
Gold Coast: Flanders, Lemmens, Rankine, Weller
Carlton: Gibbons 2, McKay 2, Betts, Curnow, Newnes
Gold Coast: Lukosius, Bowes, Miller, Ainsworth
Carlton: Murphy, Weitering, Gibbons, Martin, Curnow, Fisher
Gold Coast: Nil