GWS loss a giant blow, but Suns can look on the bright side
While the Greater Western Sydney Giants were recovering at a family day for Canberra fans from their first AFL win, the Gold Coast Suns players probably spent yesterday feeling a bit sorry for themselves.
Some may say things are looking dire for the Suns, they’ve lost to their younger brother, the babies in the pram as Kevin Sheedy referred to his team.
Even worse, they lost with both Michael Rischitelli and superstar Gary Ablett on the field.
The Suns have been on the other side of such pain infliction, having put three teams through it last year; Port Adelaide in round five, Brisbane in round seven and Richmond in round 17, yet they remain winless this season heading into round eight. But Suns supporters shouldn’t be all that worried.
Firstly, there is still Melbourne to play in their fight to avoid another wooden spoon.
Secondly, there are plenty of reasonable factors that may have contributed to their unexpected loss, and being a young team, they’ll learn from those.
The Giants should take note too.
Suns coach Guy McKenna was not very happy with his side’s performance at Manuka Oval, saying after the match, ‘‘they just wanted to do the easy things and thought it was going to just all fall into their lap’’.
The Suns were playing as favourites, not a situation most of their players were familiar with, and no matter how many times you read about the need to respect your opponent, it’s a lesson best learned from making the mistake.
It’s easy to say in hindsight, but there’s no doubt the Giants were worthy opponents.
They have some brilliant young players on their list and they entered the match with nothing to lose.
That should be a mindset the Gold Coast is familiar with, and it doesn’t even need to look as far back as last season, just last round’s game against Fremantle.
Missing Rischitelli and Ablett, the Suns stepped up and came as close as they have to a win this season. They should have known the Giants would throw everything at them.
Then there’s the dreaded second-year blues, the form slump experienced by so many players after a great first season.
Premiership coach Leigh Matthews noted that the Suns and the Giants were in a unique situation for the AFL, having ‘‘started with a big chunk of really talented 18-year-olds.’’
So Saturday’s game was between a team of really talented 18-year-olds and a team of really talented 19-year-olds, perhaps not playing as well as last year.
Matthews put the Gold Coast’s slow start into perspective when talking to me before the Giants game.
‘‘I didn’t think the Suns would be any better than they were last year, they found a way to win a game or two or three,’’ he said.
‘‘But I didn’t think there was any chance they were going to win half a dozen games for instance [this season].
‘‘The Suns might win a few games, the Giants might win a game or two, but no one’s expecting anything more than that really.’’
So losing to your little brother isn’t always as bad as it seems.