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Suns face home truths

Date

Andrew Stafford, Gold Coast

Listen up: Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna makes a point to star Gary Ablett at three-quarter-time yesterday.

Listen up: Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna makes a point to star Gary Ablett at three-quarter-time yesterday. Photo: Getty Images

PORT ADELAIDE 4.4 7.7 14.14 17.16 (118) GOLD COAST 2.5 7.6 7.8 10.10 (70)
GOALS Port Adelaide: Boak 3, Brad Ebert 2, Brett Ebert 2, Cornes 2, Broadbent 2, Pearce, D Stewart, McCarthy, Schulz, Trengove, Westhoff. Gold Coast: Day 3, McQualter 2, Sexton, Brown, Ablett, Horsley, Rischitelli.
BEST Port Adelaide: Pearce, Boak, Cornes, Brad Ebert, Broadbent, Trengove. Gold Coast: Day, McQualter, Iles, Stanley Ablett, Rischitelli.
UMPIRES S Jeffery, J Mollison,N Foot.
CROWD 12,416 at Metricon Stadium.

IF EVER Gold Coast was to finally break its duck at its home ground - and this season - this surely would be the game. Yes, Port Adelaide has shown signs of improvement this year, and the Suns are winless. But for talent, you'd think the Suns have the Power covered. And that elusive first victory hasn't looked too far away.

Well, elusive it remains. If the Suns haven't learnt the lesson by now, after today it should be manifestly obvious: it's not just a matter of playing four quarters, especially for the Suns. It only takes the briefest of collective brain-fades for a promising game to turn to dust, regardless of the opposition.

''That's just our journey at the moment, just [being] harder and smarter for longer,'' coach Guy McKenna said after the 48-point loss. ''It's another three-quarter effort, but that's probably where we're at, at the moment … We've just got to drive these boys to stay focused for longer.''

Of course, you could have written the same thing about the Power plenty of times in the past few years. Indeed, the Power wasn't even switched on for the first 10 minutes of the first and final quarters. But the Suns couldn't make them pay in that first quarter, and a brief flurry of three goals early in the last was just too little, too late.

By contrast, in six minutes early in the third quarter, the Power kicked five goals. That was the game, right there. In that third quarter, Port entered the Suns' forward 50 arc on 22 occasions for seven majors. It probably didn't even need to go inside that often, since it kicked many of its goals from well outside that distance, but it gives you a fair idea of the Power's total dominance of the home side during that period

It didn't look a fair reflection of the contest, for at half-time, the Suns were within a point after a stirring five-goal second quarter. Their prospective key forwards Sam Day and Tom Lynch had dominated both in the air and around the ground, with Day in particular playing a formidable game, dragging in five marks and booting three goals for the half.

But since when was football fair? As everyone knows, it's not just about physical maturity; the game's played between the ears. On both counts, the Suns still have plenty of growing up to do. They looked much the better side early on, booting the first two goals. But they also squandered a number of gilt-edged opportunities, and then came another of those 10-minute lapses that gifted the Power a head start.

Port's contributors were many. Danyle Pearce was his side's most creative player, Travis Boak the most efficient, while Matthew Broadbent and Brad Ebert were both very solid. Jay Schulz would have finished in his side's best if not for wayward kicking. But perhaps the most important contribution of all came from veteran Kane Cornes, who broke even on the stats sheet with Gary Ablett while kicking two goals of his own.

The Suns will take some heart from the performances of Day and Lynch, and Harley Bennell again showed glimpses of his talent, but it was older, less gifted players such as Sam Iles, Danny Stanley and former Saint Andrew McQualter that set the tone with their hardness and maturity. It's long past time for some of their younger peers to step up.

As for the Power, coach Matthew Primus can take satisfaction from the club's first back-to-back wins since the final two games of 2010.

''It feels like longer than that,'' he said after the match. ''We are improving, but we've still got a lot of work to do.''

CORNES' HARVEST

Kane Cornes looked destined for the football scrap heap last year, but in the last two weeks he's taken two major scalps. Last week it was North's Brent Harvey; this week he all but neutralised Gary Ablett's influence on the contest - an individual win that went a long way to deciding the outcome of this match.

TWO BRIGHT SUNS

Sam Day was practically unsighted last season due to injury, but yesterday he played his most influential game, taking six marks - four contested - and kicking three goals. Tom Lynch also made his presence felt, with seven marks. If Charlie Dixon (injured) can make the grade, the Suns have a potent forward division to work with.

BROWN BEATEN BY SIREN BLUE

We all know the umpires and Campbell Brown aren't the best of friends, but seriously, his kick was halfway to the goals before the three-quarter-time siren blew. He had a right to feel aggrieved when no score was awarded.

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Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
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Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115 vs GCF 89 13:40MCG
SYD 72 vs ESS 60 16:35ANZ
BRI 74 vs COL 86 19:20G
WBU 97 vs WCE 87 19:20ES
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STK 78 vs GWS 87 13:10ES
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 75 vs PTA 68 18:40Domain Stadium
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HAW 123 vs GEE 61 15:20MCG
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Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
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RIC 66 vs WBU 85 13:45MCG
GWS 101 vs MEL 56 14:10SO
COL 63 vs ADE 90 16:35ES
GCF 76 vs STK 104 19:20MS
PTA 44 vs SYD 92 19:40Adelaide Oval
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GEE 60 vs FRE 104 13:10SS
ESS 78 vs HAW 76 15:20MCG
NTH 133 vs BRI 51 16:40ES
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Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140 vs STK 66 19:50MCG
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84 vs ESS 105 13:45MCG
ADE 80 vs MEL 55 14:10Adelaide Oval
SYD 111 vs GWS 90 16:35SCG
NTH 105 vs PTA 113 19:20ES
BRI 58 vs RIC 137 19:20G
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Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC vs MEL 19:50MCG
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CAR vs COL 19:50MCG
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Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE vs CAR 19:50ES
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Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
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COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
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Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
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RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
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ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
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HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
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NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
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COL vs WCE 16:35ES
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ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
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Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
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COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
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ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
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Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
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NTH vs STK 14:10BA
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Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
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COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
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CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
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Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
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Round 23
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Sydney Swans 3 3 0 0 141.75 12
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Richmond 3 2 1 0 139.37 8
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Western Bulldogs 2 2 0 0 118.95 8
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Essendon 3 2 1 0 104.74 8
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