Sun Steven May is tackled by Lion Daniel Merrett. Photo: Getty Images
Brisbane Lions 7.7 10.11 14.14 16.14 (110)
Gold Coast 1.2 3.3 6.6 8.8 (56)
Goals – Brisbane Lions: Green 3 Close 2 McGrath 2 Hanley 2 Zorko 2 Maguire Taylor Rockliff Crisp McStay. Gold Coast: Sexton 3 Hall Stanley Shaw Martin Day.
Best – Brisbane Lions: Hanley Zorko Rockliff Green Martin Patfull. Gold Coast: Stanley May Prestia.
Injuries – Gold Coast: Rischitelli (quad) replaced in selected side by Herbert; Dixon (groin); Smith (ankle).
Umpires: Bannister Ryan McInerney.
Crowd: 27,167 at The Gabba.
Votes: Hanley (BL) 9 Zorko (BL) 8 Rockliff (BL) 8 Green (BL) 7 Martin (BL) 7
It was only three weeks ago, but Gold Coast’s win against Collingwood already feels like an eternity. Remember when Gary Ablett went down clutching his dislocated shoulder, the Suns finished with no one on the bench and yet somehow emerged with a famous victory? With a good draw, their place in the finals seemed all but assured.
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Green (3.0), Zorko (2.4), Hanley (2.1), McGrath (2.1), Close (2.0), Crisp (1.1), Maguire (1.0), McStay (1.0), Rockliff (1.0), Taylor (1.0), Martin (0.1), Mayes (0.1), Merrett (0.1)||Scorers||Sexton (3.1), Stanley (1.1), Day (1.0), Hall (1.0), Martin (1.0), Shaw (1.0), Lynch (0.2), Bennell (0.1), Russell (0.1)|
The popular opinion was that the maturing Suns had proved they could win without Ablett. You could forgive them, perhaps, for being overrun by the Western Bulldogs the following week in Cairns, where they barely fired a shot in the last quarter. Surely they were cooked after the previous week’s heroics.
But, after a week off, it will be much harder for the Suns to explain away their horrible performance against the Brisbane Lions in the eighth “Q-Clash” between the two teams, in particular an uncompetitive first half that puts their place in September in serious jeopardy.
Few would have seen it coming. The Lions had been willing but not good enough against both Richmond and the West Coast Eagles in their last two outings and, while the Suns were outplayed, they weren’t disgraced by the Bulldogs. On this occasion, though, they played not just without leadership, but seemingly bereft of purpose.
By the end of the first quarter, a few hard figures spoke for themselves. The Suns had barely touched the ball, with just 35 disposals to 125. Even more damningly, they’d taken just one mark – an intercept by Sam Day, taken from a kick behind play in defence. That said all you need to know about the Suns’ willingness to run.
Their one goal had come gift-wrapped by Justin Clarke, who suffered the ignominy of being run down by Aaron Hall, hardly known as a tackling machine. They’d spent the remainder of the quarter fending off a ferocious Lions attack. By the time a storm swept across the Gabba late in the term, the home side was five goals to the good.
Really, you could have pencilled in the result when Matt Maguire kicked the 21st goal of his career (in his 163rd game), a huge bomb from 60 metres. The Lions were quicker, more committed to the contest, and had a bit of luck on their side. Only a curmudgeon would deny them after a cursed season.
By early in the second quarter, the Lions had 100 disposals more than their opponents. This was a return to the early, putative years of the Gold Coast Suns. They managed to staunch the bleeding to some degree as the half wore on, but with 21 scoring shots to six and the home side 50 points up, the game was well and truly over.
Pearce Hanley and Tom Rockliff may as well have been engaged in a game of playground kick to kick, finishing with an amazing 91 possessions between them. Dayne Zorko was almost as busy with 30, and a couple of goals. Lewis Taylor, James Aish and small forward Josh Green all added to their reputations.
Hanley’s outstanding performance was capped by a wonderful effort midway through the third term that made sure there would be no comeback by the Coast. Scooping the ball cleanly off the wet turf on the wing, Hanley chipped the ball neatly around the corner to Zorko, then ran 100 metres to follow up on his work with a snapped goal.
This year, we’ve heard far more about David Swallow, Jaeger O’Meara and Dion Prestia, and to an only slightly lesser degree about Harley Bennell, Tom Lynch and Charlie Dixon. By half-time Dixon was off with a groin strain, ruckman Zac Smith was nursing an ankle problem, and the Suns’ midfield had been thrashed.
Probably the Suns best player was Danny Stanley, who’d mostly been tagging Rockliff, and being badly beaten. At least he gave a typically wholehearted account of himself. From there, it was hard to find another Suns player who had contributed. Only Steven May, against Daniel Merrett, could say he won his position.
Collectively, the Suns had been smashed in every area of the contest other than tackles, which can be put down to the amount of time they spent chasing opposition jumpers. They still have winnable games ahead, but they’ll need to do more than just get the points to regain the credibility they lost here.