The Canberra Demons got their NEAFL season off to a perfect season on Saturday, but coach Kade Klemke says his team must maintain intensity for longer to be a contender this year.
The Demons beat the Gold Coast Suns 14.10 (94) to 13.5 (83) at Alan Ray Oval in the opening-round clash. The 11-point margin, however, didn't reflect the Demons' dominance after building a 40-point lead in the first half.
A strong start by the Demons gave the home side a big advantage in the first half, but they were forced to stave off a late resurgence from the Suns to secure the points.
Canberra's back six made it difficult for the Suns to score and kept pressure on the away team's forwards, who failed to capitalise on the Demons' mistakes.
A triumvirate of Riley Budd, Ben Halse and Klemke made short work of defending the goal against advances from the Suns, while Demons rookie Rhys Pollock booted four goals.
But the Demons' fortunes changed after half-time as the Suns dominated across the ground, scoring six goals in the last quarter when the Demons could only manage one.
Demons player-coach Klemke said his team would have to work on maintaining their fitness across the length of a game to ensure they could capitalise on early dominance to keep converting strong leads into wins as the season wore on.
"We were just trying to scrape through in the last quarter," Klemke said.
He said he was happy with the third quarter and how the team performed, even as the Demons' fortunes started to slip.
Klemke had high praise for his team, who he said had all played their part in the win.
"That's all you ask of the boys, is that they play their role and if everyone does that on the field, you win a game of footy," Klemke said.
The Demons' efforts in out spreading the Suns were a positive to take from the game and strong players in defence had helped them to the win.
"That's the great thing about our side, that we're not just relying on forwards," Klemke said.
The Canberra mentor says the first round win won't make the team complacent, but it would offer a strong confidence boost for the side after early gains against a side boasting full-time athletes.
"We've got to play well every week, there's no easy game in this competition," Klemke said.
Gold Coast coach Nick Malceski said it was hard to come back from a 40 point head start but the team "smacked" the Demons in the second half.
"We didn't play the way we wanted to in the first, probably, two and a half quarters and we probably sort of got going probably half way through that third [quarter] and played the way we wanted to," Malceski said.
"I thought we matched them inside a little bit but [the Demons] just spread us on a lot earlier and read the cues a lot quicker than what we did. We've got a bit of learning to do around that."
AT A GLANCE
CANBERRA DEMONS 5.3 7.7 13.8 14.10 (94)
GOLD COAST SUNS 1.1 3.3 7.4 13.5 (83)
GOALS: Canberra: R. Pollock 4, M. Hardie 3, A. Bruce 2, T. Faul 2, K. Evans, M. Maguire, J Powell. Gold Coast: S. Day 5, B. Crossley 3, J. Mentha 2, C. Beaman, C. Nutting, A. Young