Richmond headed north to take on the Gold Coast Suns at a steamy Metricon Stadium in a tough game to predict. The Tigers had enjoyed a solid campaign in 2013 making the Top Eight, while the Suns are a team on the march, full of excellent young talent and led by the competition’s best player in Gary Ablett junior. The Tigers were without their usual Ablett “minder” in Daniel Jackson who remains out of action with a hamstring complaint, while young gun Harley Bennell sat out for the Suns. With a 2-1 edge in wins over Richmond to date, the Suns were confident of getting the season off to a solid start on their home turf.
The first bounce was delayed by 15 minutes due to inclement weather at the GWS v Sydney match up with the delay in Sydney flowing on to the Tigers and Suns match due to television broadcasting requirements. Richmond hit the scoreboard first through second-year player Nick Vlastuin, but the Suns hit back within the minute with a goal to Dion Prestia. Ablett was in everything early as the Gold Coast took control with a sensational five minute burst, piling on four goals as the locals handled the humid conditions much better than the Tigers. The news wasn’t all good for the Suns as prize recruit Jack Martin left the ground with what looked like a significant shoulder injury. Goals to Ricky Petterd and Jack Riewoldt kept the Tigers in the contest but at quarter time the Suns held a handy 15 point lead.
Gold Coast kept the pressure on with Danny Stanley banging a goal through inside the first minute of the restart. Trent Cotchin was masterful in hauling the Tigers back into the contest, racking up possessions all over the ground and feeding his forwards with multiple chances. While the Tiger forwards failed to capitalize on shots for goal, it was Cotchin himself who drew the Tigers closer with a goal of his own. When Ty Vickery goaled late, the margin was back to eight points at half time although the Suns were still in control by five points.
In a scrappy third quarter the humid conditions seemed to take a toll on the players. Despite having more of the footy, the Richmond forward set up was dysfunctional, with multiple entries inside the 50 meter having no impact on the scoreboard. David Swallow was proving a handful for the Tigers, combining with Ablett to run the ball from defense to attack in a formidable display of “sticky” weather football. The Suns also squandered plenty of chances up forward in the third term but managed to hold the lead coming into the final term. With a quarter to play, the Gold Coast looked to have the Tigers' measure with a two goal lead.
Richmond jumped out of the blocks in the final quarter with Cotchin once again leading the charge. The Tiger skipper fed Shane Edwards for a goal before a Dustin Martin snap had the Tigers in front for the first time in the match. The Tiger Army's excitement would be short lived as Tom Lynch marked and goaled from 35 meters out to restore the Gold Coast lead. When Sam Day added another goal at the ten minute mark for the Suns, things were looking grim for the Tigers. Lynch repeated the dosage seven minutes later and a first-up victory was sealed for the up and coming Suns. At the final siren the Metricon Stadium scoreboard showed a well-earned 18 point victory to the Suns.
The Gold Coast players handled the humid conditions better than their Richmond counterparts who will need to go back to the drawing board with their forward set up. Despite having the football inside their 50 meter arc on plenty of occasions, their misuse allowed the Suns to run it out with ease and create chances of their own. Ablett was magnificent for the Suns with 41 possessions. He was well supported by young midfield guns Dion Prestia, David Swallow and Jaeger O’Meara. Trent Cotchin and Brett Deledio were best for the Tigers who have a massive Round 2 clash approaching with nemesis Carlton at the MCG on Thursday week. The Gold Coast will need to maintain top form if they are to topple Grand Finalist Fremantle in the West.
Scoreboard Gold Coast: 5.4 6.5 7.13 12.15 (87) Richmond: 3.1 5.6 6.7 10.9 (69) Best Players Gold Coast: Ablett, Prestia, Rischitelli, Swallow, Cameron Richmond: Cotchin, Deledio, Thomas, Martin, Hampson
Article last changed on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - 5:24 AM EDT