The Gold Coast Suns easily accounted for the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium, with a dominant second term and a powerful final term. The Suns won in most areas of play, winning contested possessions 150 to 116 and almost doubling the number of forward entries made by the hapless hosts. The Suns were led by Jarrod Witts who dominated in the ruck and Matt Rowell who collected twenty-nine possessions (13 contested) and laid a season high seventeen tackles. Tim Kelly was strong in the midfield for the Eagles picking up 26 possessions (17 contested) and laying six tackles. First-year player Reuben Ginbey gave him good support in the packs, laying sixteen tackles and picking up twelve possessions (9 contested), but the combination of Rowell, Noah Anderson, David Swallow, Will Powell, and first-year player Bailey Humphrey overwhelmed the undermanned Eagles' midfield.
Gold Coast controlled play in the first quarter making eighteen forward entries, while the Eagles could only get inside their attacking arc six times. However, the Suns' method of attack was too predictable. They didn't switch the ball across the ground and mostly kicked long and high to Ben King.
The Eagles' defender Tom Barrass played on King for most of the game and spoiled most of King's attempts to mark (catch) by punching the ball away. In fact, Barrass made a season high nineteen spoils during the match. The Eagles, at least, were more effective in their limited attacks. Connor West booted a goal from a free kick after being tackled high and Tim Kelly completed a good snap from forty meters. Gold Coast's three first quarter goals came from Rowell, Humphrey, and Mabior Chol who all gathered ground balls and kicked truly.
The Eagles began the second quarter more positively with a long kick from Jack Darling on the wing to Oscar Allen, who marked and kicked truly. However from there, the quarter belonged to the visitors. The Suns added eight unanswered goals. They dominated at stoppages and in contested possessions. They also tidied up their forward entries and Ben King was able to mark unimpeded and booted three goals for the quarter. Jack Lukosious was also good in the air and booted two. The Eagles laid tackles but were unable to stop the Suns run as the Suns had greater numbers at the ball and always had an option on the outside of the packs. The Eagle midfielders who were not prepared to run defensively with their direct opponents. Liam Duggan tried hard for the Eagles in defense and appeared to be one of the few Eagles trying to lift the team.
The third quarter began with a burst of Eagle activity. They won clearances and within five minutes of play had kicked two goals. The Suns responded by lifting their workload at stoppages. The rest of the quarter was an arm wrestle with players milling around the ball and there seemed to be more stoppages then kicks. It was ugly football. Tackle rates exploded and neither team could break free. The Suns were limited to just three behinds (worth a point each). The home crowd appreciated the Eagle fightback and urged their team on, with the hope that something special could occur in the final term.
A Suns' goal by Sam Day within the first minute of play in the final stanza, was answered four minutes later by an Oscar Allen mark and fifty meter goal for the Eagles. However, from there it was all Gold Coast. The Eagle midfielders were fatigued and lacked the stamina to run with the Suns. The visitors won most of the clearances and played direct no-fuss football. The Eagles' last line of defense of Barrass, Duggan and Alex Witherden battled on, but could not stop the Suns booting the last four goals. The Suns are getting stronger and the Eagles are having another season from hell.
Next week the Suns meet the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba, where the Suns will be brought back to earth. The Eagles travel to Tasmania to meet the struggling Hawthorn Hawks in Launceston. The loser will sit firmly on the bottom of the ladder.
Scores: West Coast Eagles: 2.3 3.5 5.7 6.7 (43) Gold Coast Suns: 3.2 11.7 11.10 16.17 (113) Best West Coast Eagles: Kelly, Duggan, Witherden, Ginbey, Sheed Gold Coast Suns: Rowell, Witts, Swallow, Humphrey, Anderson
Article last changed on Saturday, May 20, 2023 - 8:44 AM EDT
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