Suns turn the heat on Tigers

Gold Coast 5.4 6.7 7.13 12.15 (87) Richmond 3.1 5.6 6.7 10.9 (69)
Goals: Gold Coast: Stanley 2, Day 2, Lynch 2, Ablett 2, Prestia, O'Meara, Matera, Swallow. Richmond: Vickery 2, Vlastuin, Petterd, Riewoldt, Cotchin, Griffiths, Edwards, Martin, Deledio.
Best: Gold Coast: Ablett, Swallow, Prestia, Rischitelli, Harbrow, May. Richmond: Cotchin, Deledio.
Injuries: Gold Coast: Martin (shoulder), Dixon (concussion).
Umpires: R Chamberlain, S Meredith, B Ryan. Crowd: 19,425 at Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast.

Here come the expansion clubs. After Greater Western Sydney's astonishing upset of the Sydney Swans, the match between Gold Coast and Richmond was delayed by 15 minutes, due to the storm in the harbour city and the demands of television.

But where no one predicted the Giants' victory, the Suns' performance to dispose of another team with an eye on the finals, Richmond, had an air of inevitability about it. Can the Suns make the finals? It's hard to see why not … they were blazing.

The Suns effectively won this match in two red-hot bursts in the first and last quarters that destroyed the fancied Tigers. Gary Ablett added the icing, kicking his second goal with his 40th disposal of the night.

Ablett, of course, is still Ablett. But the gap is closing between the captain and his teammates. Dion Prestia, David Swallow and Michael Rischitelli were all outstanding. Even Danny Stanley, a player who's battled extremely hard to make it in the AFL, was among the best in the first half.

The game started at warp speed, Nick Vlastuin kicking an excellent goal on the run that finished a smart chain of handballs from the Tigers. The reply from the Suns, however, was swift and it was awesome. Prestia was first in, swooping on a loose ball in the goal square after Charlie Dixon buried David Astbury in a tackle.


Tom Lynch, the Suns' missing link for much of last year, then marked strongly and found Sam Day alone, also in the goal square. Ablett then streamed out of the centre from the next bounce before giving the ball to Stanley, who nailed the shot from beyond 50.

And finally, Jaeger O'Meara attacked a contest on the wing, snatched the ball with one hand from in front of an opponent coming the other way, and ran away to pot the Suns' fourth from close to the boundary line. All this in 10 minutes of skilled football.

Eight goals were kicked in the opening term, but just five followed in the next two as Richmond slowed the game down. In between, the Suns were unfortunate to lose debutant Jack Martin to a shoulder injury, and Dixon to concussion.

Slowly, though, the Tigers were working their way back into the match, with five out of seven goals either side of half-time bring the game back to almost level pegging.

Six minutes into the last quarter, it looked like the dam wall might finally burst. Tyrone Vickery slapped the ball down to Dustin Martin, who snapped over his shoulder to put the Tigers in front for the first time since the first minute.

But the reply, again, was emphatic. David Swallow broke a tackle at half-back before sprinting clear, propping, then driving the ball long to Lynch, who delivered. Dion Prestia, down the other wing, ran a couple of miles (between bounces) to find Day with another contested mark and goal.

These are the two forwards the Suns have been waiting on for years to click. Lynch is a prodigious talent but has spent more time off the ground than on it, while it's been unclear whether Day would be resettled in defence.

And Swallow, the Suns' first No. 1 draft pick, is starting to play to that billing. Ferocious at the contest and now playing a more attacking role, he all but put the match away for the Suns after intercepting a kick-in, then putting the ball back over the umpire's head.

Lynch added another for good measure. Game over.