Chris Kowald reporting for AFANA from Optus Stadium, Perth
The Gold Coast Suns traveled to Perth to play a ‘home’ game at Optus Stadium. The Suns had won their first two games, against North Melbourne and Carlton, but found the Dockers a tougher proposition at the new Perth stadium.
The Suns got away to a bright start with Jarryd Lyons clearing the ball from the center to Ben Ainsworth who gathered the ball cleanly and chipped a perfect pass Sam Day who marked (caught) the ball. Day took a set shot from a tight angle and kicked the opening goal within the first 30 seconds of play. The Dockers replied three minutes later with Aaron Sandilands intercepting in the center of the ground and handballing to Nat Fyfe, who handpassed to Luke Ryan who then handballed to Haydn Ballantyne. Ballantyne ran to the fifty meter arc, swerved between two defenders and kicked truly. Five minutes later a poor kick from Docker defender Michael Johnson caused a turnover that finished with Michael Sexton scrambling the Suns' second goal. For the rest of the quarter the Dockers locked the ball in their forward line by playing their trademark hard tackling and strong forward-pressure game. The Suns were forced to hack kicks out of defense. These rushed kicks were easily marked by a defensive wall of Dockers across the center of the ground. Fyfe played a dominant quarter to inspire the Dockers, who added three more goals for the quarter.
The Suns fought back in the second term through the efforts of Brayden Fiorini, Lachie Weller, Jack Martin and Lyons. Martin showed his class by taking good marks and kicking the ball to position. Weller used his pace on the wing, against his old team, and Lyons was busy earning contested possessions. The game opened up and the Suns found space to run. Sandilands had a slight edge over Jarrod Witts in the ruck but the fleet-footed Suns midfielders won more clearances. The Suns repeatedly pushed into attack with kicks to their strong marking forwards, Sam Day and Alex Sexton. The few attacks the Dockers launched were spoiled by inaccurate kicking for goal. At the main break the scores were level.
At the resumption of play third-gamer Bailey Banfield continued to shadow the Suns’ playmaker Aaron Hall. The damaging Hall was kept to just five kicks for the game. The Suns’ goal kicking machine Tom Lynch was subdued by the skill of Dockers defender Alex Pearce. In his three games back from a year’s absence, due to a broken leg, Pearce has impressed by beating three quality full forwards. Lyons, David Swallow and Jack Martin battled well in the midfield for Gold Coast, but they were outgunned by a rampant Fyfe, who was supported by Lachie Neale and a very active Michael Walters. The Dockers forwards straightened their kicking and added five goals for the quarter.
In the final quarter the Dockers booted two early goals to deny the Suns any chance of a third win for the season. The Suns were beaten but not disgraced. They battled hard throughout the game but their runners were shut out by the Dockers applying pressure at the fall of the ball. The Dockers were well led by Fyfe who was dominant all over the field and Sandilands who was a powerful force in the ruck. Lyons played an outstanding game for the Suns, but in the end even he was overwhelmed by the fierce desire of the Dockers to get to the ball.
The Suns will remain in Perth for the week, as they prepare for their next game against the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium. The Dockers travel to Sydney to meet the Greater Western Sydney Giants who were stung by the Sydney Swans and will be in no mood to extend niceties to the Dockers.
Scores: Gold Coast Suns: 2.1 6.4 9.7 10.8 (68) Fremantle Dockers: 4.5 5.10 10.13 13.18 (96) Best : Gold Coast Suns: Lyons, Martin, Swallow, Day, Sexton Fremantle Dockers : Fyfe, Banfield, A Pearce, Neale, Ryan
Article last changed on Monday, May 28, 2018 - 5:36 PM EDT