GOLD Coast Suns Academy have taken out the first of two games in a battle between the Queensland Northern Academies, defeating Brisbane Lions by 55 points at Surfers Paradise yesterday. The Suns piled on seven goals to one in the first half – from only two more scoring shots – to lead by 32 points at half-time. A tighter second half saw the Lions begin to make some inroads, but the Suns kicked away again to record a comfortable 12.6 (78) to 3.5 (23) victory ahead of the second game on Wednesday. Alana Gee was a clear best on ground for the Suns in the win, with the talented midfielder bringing her own ball to the game and showing off her natural class to dominate through the midfield and then roll off half-back in the final term.
The game was a highly contested one, with not only the tackling itself, but the technique of the tackling a clear standout in the match. There was little room to move for many of the players, which allowed those with natural evasion skills to shine, and the Suns had more of them on the park. Gee lead the way from the first bounce, but was particularly influential after quarter time, as the Suns piled on the only four goals of the game and eight of the first nine goals of the game. Brisbane hit back after half-time thanks to tough inside midfielder Ava Seton, who stepped up to provide on-ball support to top talent Charlotte Mullins, with the Lions able to kick a couple of majors in the third term but still losing the quarter as the Suns kicked three.
Brooke Sheridan and Kadie Fletcher – the latter came off hurt in the final term after hitting the ground hard – showed their class in the forward half for the Lions, whilst twins Sarah and Courtney Browne were also reliable in the back half and pushing through the midfield. Ebony Milne was one of the better ball users going forward as the kicking inside 50 often let the Lions down, with the Suns defence – lead by remarkable 2006-born Tara Harrington – continually rebounding most of the forward forays. Harrington stole the show early and never let up, being the second best behind Gee, with her ability to read the ball, make good decisions and use it well under pressure as a highlight. She eventually switched roles with Gee to push through the middle on a wing, and still found the ball, pairing up nicely with fellow 2024 AFLW Draft prospect, Nyalli Milne.
Gold Coast’s Milne provided a couple of eye-catching goals, with a multi-bounce run in the first term, and then a clever forward play to sidestep a couple of opponents in the second term to create all sorts of headaches inside 50 for the Lions’ defence. Gold Coast had a remarkable five multiple goalkickers from 12 goals, with Milne, Josie McCabe, Isabella Iverach, Maggie O’Connell and Ella Calleja all kicking two apiece. McCabe was a clever link-up player at half-forward and another bottom-age talent for next year. Key position utility Fleur Davies often controlled the ruck stoppages with her extra height able to get first hands to the ball more often than not.
From a Lions perspective, they were overrun in the midfield, but the defence held up best it could, with Christine Watson a fierce competitor deep, and the Browne sisters always helping out. Missing Ella Smith from the side, Brisbane will be keen to bounce back at its home game on Wednesday Moreton Bay Sports Complex. Keep an eye out on Draft Central over the next few days as we compile notes from the match, as well as a Player Focus on Gee.
GOLD COAST 4.1 | 7.1 | 10.4 | 12.6 (78)
BRISBANE 0.2 | 1.5 | 3.5 | 3.5 (23)
Gold Coast: N. Milne 2, J. McCabe 2, I. Iverach 2, M. O’Connell 2, E. Calleja 2, C. Miller, C. Coombes.
Brisbane: B. Sheridan, K. Fletcher, L. Paget.
Gold Coast: A. Gee, T. Harrington, N. Milne, J. McCabe, M. O’Connell
Brisbane: C. Mullins, A. Seton, B. Sheridan, K. Fletcher, E. Milne