Tag: Gold Coast Suns

QAFL finals wrap: Cats’ Colts join Seniors in the big dance

GRAND finalists have been set across the QAFL Senior, Reserves, and Colts grades with Gold Coast clubs Labrador and Broadbeach represented across two of the three levels. The Cats will face Maroochydore in the senior decider after the Roos jumped minor premier Labrador in an epic comeback win, but the Tigers’ Reserves and Colts downed Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) and Morningside respectively to set up final week appearances.

Maroochydore’s epic last gasp victory in the top flight sets up an intriguing grand final meeting with Broadbeach, who will be out to rectify last year’s loss to Morningside after earning the week off. The Roos got the jump with a five goals to one opening term but fell 18 points behind at half-time, and were 22 points down with less that 10 minutes left to play. As Labrador began to rest its guns, a five-goal swing ensued and the Roos saluted to the tune of 10 points, 13.10 (88) to 11.12 (78).

Sam McLaughlin was outstanding for the victors and slotted a key late major, as the likes of Michael Steven (four goals), Lochie Laing and Mitchell Scholard (both three) also found the big sticks throughout. Former-AFL Irishman Pearce Hanley booted five goals for Labrador, while Alex McKay played a key role through the engine room. From an Academy sense, products Mackenzie Riddle (Gold Coast) and Ben Thomas (Brisbane) featured for either side.

While the seniors were done-in, Labrador’s second side defeated PBC by 22 points to secure a spot in the grand final alongside Morningside. Minor premiers across both grades, the Tigers were able to convert on this occasion having set up an early buffer and lead at every break.

Northern Territory native and Gold Coast eligible tall Ned Stevens snared a goal in just his fourth game for the season, having battled a niggling groin injury. Fellow tall Thomas Hofert also got a run for the victors, along with 2002-born SUNS Academy products Bailey Reeves, James Smith, Shaye Walsh, and Riley Johnson. Top-ager Luke Coombes notched his 12th reserves game, while Brinn Little turned out for PBC.

In the Colts grade, Labrador will take on Broadbeach after the Cats downed Morningside on Saturday, restricting the second-ranked Panthers to just two goals from 11 scoring shots in a dominant 46-point victory. State Under 17 squad members Jared Eckersley and Kye Reynoldson were among the Cats’ best, while Cooper Parkes snared four majors in the win. For Morningside, representative selectees Harry Taylor, Thalayn Ryschka, and Bryce Longland all featured in their side’s final game for the season.

Image Credit: Brooke Sleep Photography via AFLQ

Ones to Watch: 2022 Northern Academy prospects

WITH the likes of Harris Andrews (Brisbane Lions), Jack Bowes (Gold Coast SUNS), Tom Green (GWS GIANTS), and Isaac Heeney (Sydney Swans) among the many great Northern Academy products, there are always prospects of note coming out of each region in an AFL Draft sense. While there may not be as many featuring at the top end of this year’s crop, there are still a bunch to consider and plenty more for the future. In a special Ones to Watch edition, we take a look at some of the Northern Academy talents to keep an eye on ahead of next year’s intake.

BRISBANE LIONS

Jaspa Fletcher

Fletcher has somewhat a double-link to the club, being not only an academy member but also a father-son prospect, with his father Adrian playing 107 games for the Brisbane Bears/Lions. Fletcher looms as one of the top Northern State talents heading into 2022, with his speed and class by foot two standout attributes in his game. Fletcher is also extremely versatile, able to fill a role up either end, on a wing or right in the thick of things in the engine room, giving whichever team he plays for a lot of options.

Riley McMillan

A creative player in the forward half of the ground, McMillan has a lot of tricks to win the ball and get himself out of congestion, combining his speed and agility to get clear from opponents and then use the ball well by foot to get it to his teammates. When McMillan has run through the midfield, his positioning around stoppages has been consistently good, with his clean hands in close a crafty weapon.

Bailey Tome

A hard at it inside ball winner, Tome is the type of hard-working midfielder that makes life easier for the outside runners. With impressive movement that allows him to keep up with most opponents and be able to tackle as soon as they grab the ball, it is not uncommon to see Tome lay three or four tackles in a short period, as is his relentless approach.

Others:

Ravi Schofield is an exciting forward that can pinch hit in the midfield and use his athleticism as a weapon. Benjamin McCarthy plays as a reliable defender who can also fill a role forward. Liam McNeil and Thalayn Ryschka are two impressive ruck options for 2022. Will Ashcroft, whilst not an academy prospect, is tied to the club via father-son rules as the son of Marcus. He looks an early top five contender and is currently plying his trade for the Sandringham Dragons at NAB League level.

GOLD COAST SUNS

Jared Eckersley

A high-leaping running defender, Eckersley is another Broadbeach product that was able to impact at Under 19’s level in 2021. He was consistently a roadblock to opposition attacks, contesting well with his spoiling and rebounding effectively with his long kick to get his side back in its front half from defensive 50. 

Cody Harrington

Utilising his speed and smarts, Harrington is a constant danger in the forward half of the ground and can hurt the opposition in plenty of ways. Coming from talent factory Broadbeach, whilst Harrington is more than capable of playing a traditional small forward role, he’s an aerial and one-on-one marking threat, making him a difficult match up for one defender to deal with. To go with all this, Harrington is also a solid tackler, taking opponents down more often than not when he gets a hold. Harrington is a goal sneak as well, able to kick them from anywhere or set them up by hitting teammates with his deadly kick. 

Campbell Lake

Popping up all over the ground regardless of his starting position, Lake is a hard working midfielder with genuine will to run both ways and win the football. A Labrador product, Lake combines this work-rate with quality disposal, particularly when heading inside 50, often looking to hit up leading forwards or putting it where he wants them to go.

Others:

Levi Fyffe and Joshua Young are high leaping and exciting forwardline targets who have formed a dangerous duo when playing together, with the two often working up the ground as well to be link up options. Kye Reynoldson is a winger who can also play half-back that turns opponents inside out with his evasiveness, and possesses a penetrating kick. Taine Dawson rotates between the forward line and the ruck, with some impressive speed off the mark and a high leap that makes him a danger around the ground.

GWS GIANTS

Angus Curry

Currently boarding as Wesley College, Curry has had a few more chances to impress than a lot of other Northern Academy prospects for 2022; playing for Wesley, Oakleigh Chargers in the Under 17 series and the GWS Academy at different times. Curry doesn’t let his shorter stature hold him back, showing a lot of tenacity with his approach to contests and tackles, but also balancing that with quality ball use when he wins it.

Luke Lawrence

Looming as a dangerous midfielder that can rest forward in the future, Lawrence has made the most of his limited appearances in 2021 – including a three-goal haul in his only NAB League appearance. Mostly playing through the midfield through the academy series, Lawrence’s ability to get away from, or around, opponents with his speed and agility is eye catching, while his ability to find the right handball option in close most impressive.

Dayne Posthuma

Posthuma is a no fuss tall defender, remaining consistently accountable for his own opponent whilst drifting across and intercepting in front of contests to aid his teammates. The 197cm Queanbeyan product has a good leap and read of the ball, as well as a deceiving amount of speed, where he usually follows up with clean ball use.

Others:

Nick Madden is a strong bodied ruck who is already 203cm and is strong one-on-one, providing headaches for opposition as he positions down the line to take intercept marks. Harry Rowston is an in and under midfielder that can be damaging with his disposal, able to get through traffic and provide second efforts. Nathan Battaglia provides an athletic option up forward capable of getting high on opposition shoulders with plenty more to work with going into the future.

SYDNEY SWANS

Tye Gander

An athletic medium forward option, Gander is electric around the contest and even more exciting when leading up at the footy, getting on an opponents’ shoulders without putting a hand on them and sticking high marks or selling candy to open up more space, Gander is capable of it all. His leap is such a strength it is not uncommon to see him rotate through the ruck and win some contests, then follow up his own tap at ground level.

Billy King

A physically imposing but also athletic ruck and forward option, King wins most ruck contests he attends; able to out-body opponents well, but just as capable of leaping over them even when giving up a little bit of height. What makes King so dangerous is his strong marking when resting forward and good leading patterns, making him a danger when he gets on the move inside 50.

Joshua Nicholls

With a nice bit of speed to help him, Nicholls can fill in role up either end, on a wing or even through the midfield, applying the same level of intent to win the ball and use it. A jack of all trades type, Nicholls is good across the board with his skills and footy IQ, making him particularly dangerous when given the freedom to roam around the ground and impact where he sees fit.

Others:

William Sabolch is a solid defender that can run through the midfield, with his ball use particularly impressive out of the back half and resulting in a lot of attacking plays. Bililign Robertson plays mostly on a wing but is more than comfortable in congestion where he can find a backwards handball option, whilst Christian Webster is a taller option that can play up either end with a good mark. Indhi Kirk, the oldest child of Brett, is also in the academy and possesses some impressive tricks as a small forward, whilst fellow club legend Michael O’Loughlin has had his nephew TJ Speedy Coe recently switch across from rugby, bringing a lot of speed and excitement to the forwardline.

QAFL Player Focus: Bodhi Uwland (Broadbeach)

EXCITING Gold Coast SUNS Academy talent Bodhi Uwland returned to the QAFL Seniors grade on Saturday, lining up in defence as Broadbeach downed Labrador to book a grand final spot. A high flier who chimes in with eye-catching intercepts, Uwland has represented the SUNS Academy at NAB League level and got six VFL games under his belt in 2021. His form saw him named as Gold Coast’s male academy player of the year, having previously earned Allies and National Draft Combine selection.

We put Uwland’s semi-final performance under the Player Focus microscope this week, breaking down his game quarter-by-quarter.

>> Up the Grades: Prospects playing senior footy

POCKET PROFILE

Bodhi Uwland
Broadbeach/SUNS Academy/Allies

DOB: 25/07/2003 (18)
Height/Weight: 185cm/84kg
Position: Medium Defender/Midfielder

Strengths: Vertical leap, intercept marking, kick penetration

2021 Averages:

VFL: 6 games | 12.5 disposals | 4.0 marks | 1.8 tackles | 0.7 inside 50s | 1.7 rebound 50s | 0.1 goals (1 total)
NAB League: 2 games | 24.0 disposals | 4.5 marks | 5.5 tackles | 5.0 inside 50s | 3.5 rebound 50s | 1.5 goals (3)

2021 QAFL Seniors, Semi-Final 1 | Labrador 9.13 (67) def. by Broadbeach 9.17 (71)

#40 Bodhi Uwland (Broadbeach)

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1

Looking to make good on his call-up from the Reserves, Uwland started brightly with his most productive quarter in terms of pure numbers. He was stationed in a familiar defensive post but roamed high up the field, tracking his opponent and taking up aggressive positions behind the ball.

A capable intercept marker, Uwland was sometimes caught out when looking to intercept, running under the ball as the seniors moved it a touch further and more efficiently to start off. It meant he had to rove front and centre at times, rather than flying for marks.

One of his forays up the ground ended in a score, as Uwland snuck free in the corridor to mark uncontested, before moving straight on and unleashing a shot with bounced over the back for a behind. He looked to use that booming kick up the other end too, launching a kick-in to half-back with good penetration.

Uwland was overall quite effective with his ball use, notching three kicks and two handballs including one breach of either arc to showcase his ability to impact on the attack.

Q2

The second quarter was easily Uwland’s most quiet, as essentially all of his work was done without the footy. He again tracked the play all the way up to his attacking half and helped set a high line for Broadbeach’s defensive press, but could have been a touch more urgent on the way back.

Uwland did make some better follow-up efforts as the term wore on though, laying tackles which interrupted a couple of quick Labrador breaks in transition. In a ball winning sense, that reaction-based movement meant he saw less of it, despite working into space on the outer.

Q3

Uwland came back relatively well in term three after a quiet second quarter, picking up four kicks, two marks, and a couple of rebound 50s as his booming kick came to the fore from defence.

He positioned a little deeper and was made to do some defensive chasing, including one effort to pressure Pearce Hanley inside defensive 50 which showed he was warming well to the finals intensity.

His two marks were taken uncontested, but Uwland looked to move the ball on quickly with one, kicking laterally to the wing, while the other was sent long down the line to a contest. Uwland got similar meterage with another kick-in and overall produced a handy period of play as Broadbeach fought off Labrador’s run of play.

Q4

Uwland again did not see as much of the ball as Broadbeach got back on top for the win, but he popped up with an absolutely clutch tackle late in the piece. He also finally got a good run at the aerial ball, launching in packs to impact a couple of opposition set shots which fell short.

His highlight for the day was the aforementioned tackle, which may well have been a goalsaving one at half-back as Labrador surged through the corridor and looked to be headed deep inside 50. With his couple of disposals, Uwland was again effective and played the percentages, rounding out a promising performance as the Cats held on for a spot in the decider.

Academy watch: Lions return for QAFL finals impact

THE 2021 QAFL finals series kicked off this past weekend, with a pair of elimination finals seeing the two lower-ranked sides pull off memorable upsets. Those teams in question were Morningside and Maroochydore, who will now face off in Saturday’s second semi-final after their narrow victories.

As this year’s reigning premier, the Panthers have plenty of work to do to defend their crown from fifth, but started off their finals campaign strongly. They raced out to an early lead and were over 40 points in front at stages, before holding off a fast-finishing Surfers Paradise to come away six-point victors on the road.

Among Morningside’s squad was a couple of very handy inclusions, namely Brisbane Lions Academy products Saxon Crozier and Toby Triffett. Both made just their second QAFL appearances for the season after runs in the VFL, while Max Nelson lined up down back alongside bottom-ager Ben McCarthy.

Max Pescud made up the Gold Coast Academy representation for Surfers, rotating forward from the wing to be one of the better Demons afield. We take a look at how all five of the aforementioned northern academy prospects fared on the elimination final stage, in a special QAFL edition of Academy Watch.

SCOUTING NOTES

Surfers Paradise 9.11 (65) def. by Morningside 10.11 (71)

#5 Toby Triffett (Morningside)

One who appears to have gained a wealth of confidence and knowledge from his time in the VFL, Triffett was a dominant contested ball winner on Saturday. The blue-booted midfielder proved strong with his ability to fire away handballs under tackling pressure and even break a few, looking quite effective by hand. He did tend to hack his clearing kicks a touch, but had no trouble finding the ball with his wickedly clean hands and solid frame. In a tone-setting act, his lone major for the game came during Morningside’s opening term flurry, as he burrowed in to rip the ball free from a forward 50 pack and snapped it home. A top performance.

#27 Saxon Crozier (Morningside)

Returning to QAFL action alongside Triffett after his own VFL tenure, Crozier took up a very familiar role on the wing for Morningside. He proved a little scratchy with his very first touch, but fixed up quickly to level with the pace of the game. Crozier had some unlucky moments in the first half with free kicks against, but clunked a nice intercept mark and looked promising when released into space via hand. That trend continued as he worked into either arc and proved productive by foot, spearing the ball to teammates. He also hit the scoreboard in term three, tracking the ball well off a stoppage with gut-run inside 50 to get the spill and convert into an open goalsquare.

#44 Ben McCarthy (Morningside)

The sole bottom-ager in this lot, McCarthy has played 13 games for the Panthers’ senior side this year and looks a settled member of the lineup. He played in defence on Saturday but was sighted trailing his opponents all the way up to half-forward, ensuring they wouldn’t get an easy kick rolling up the ground. A touch light-on, McCarthy often knew to stay down as contests formed down the line, helping to mop up the spills and kick forward. He had a couple of nice moments in the third quarter, laying a holding the ball tackle and smothering his opponent under a minute later after he had turned the ball over.

#52 Max Nelson (Morningside)

Nelson was one of the Panthers’ most important players in their elimination final triumph, playing a key role down back with plenty of work to do. He was tasked with the kick-in duties and often roosted the ball well beyond defensive 50, while also providing a bit of dash on the rebound with a good amount of confidence to take on opponents. He looked to crash packs from behind if the ball came back his way and managed to chime in with some important intercept possessions, making for a really solid game across the defensive arc.

#61 Max Pescud (Surfers Paradise)

Having taken up a starting spot on the wing, Pescud made arguably his most profound impact up forward. He showed a good turn of speed and quick skills when stationed further afield, before bringing his overhead marking ability to the fore inside 50. Pescud produced a few key plays during term two upon his switch; cutting across a pack to mark inside 50, manufacturing a goal assist with his twists and turns, and splitting a 1v2 situation which lead to another major. While he looked to be unselfish when in possession near goal, Pescud nabbed a major of his own in term four to help sustain Surfers’ fightback. His tackling intent and pressure was also terrific throughout the game.

Featured Image: Saxon Crozier in action for Morningside | Credit: RF Photography

Rising Sun Davies learns from the best

NOT everyone gets the chance to talk footy with AFLW stars in between classes at school, but Gold Coast Academy prospect Giselle Davies is taking plenty of learnings out of that exact opportunity. The 18-year-old tall defender attends Southport State High School, where current Suns midfielder Jamie Stanton teaches.

While the two are quite different players, Davies says the mentorship of Stanton has been a valuable peek behind the curtain of what it takes to cut the AFLW grade.

“(Stanton) has been a teacher at my school for a few years now so I’ve definitely looked up to her,” Davies said. “I’m always talking to her about her games on the weekend and how she went. Obviously I watch a lot of her play and even though we don’t really play similar positions it’s good to have a mentor who you can talk to.”

The link is one of Davies’ many ties to the senior-listed Suns, having also come up through Gold Coast’s academy and initially being introduced to Australian football by a certain 2020 draftee.

“I started playing footy a few years ago, my best friend Annise Bradfield got me down to play,” she said. “I was playing heaps of touch football (and) netball, I went to a footy session and it was just a perfect mix of both of those sports. I loved it from there.

“I have loved every single part of playing with the Gold Coast Under 19s Academy. We did heaps of work in the off-season after last year – pre-season training in the heat, gym, running, just loving it.

“I’m really grateful that we have the academy that looks after us so well. There’s all this new talent coming through the pathway, it’s just amazing that they really give you a perspective on what you could have and what you’re working towards.”

Through her work in the pathway and form for Bond University in this year’s QAFLW season, Davies was also selected for Queensland representative honours in 2021. While the Maroons’ Under 19 squad went down by 54 points against Vic Country in their sole carnival outing, Davies took plenty away from what was “the highest level of footy [she’s] ever played.”

“It was probably the best weekend I’ve ever had,” she said. “Just playing with a bunch of girls that you don’t usually play with, people who want to be there and played as hard as they could. Despite the loss, it was such a good game of footy to be a part of and see the different ways that Vic play their game and how I can improve mine. It was really good.”

At 180cm, Davies is aware of her strengths and areas for improvement, with her decision making by foot already sound and her ability to utilise said size on the incline. Clunking more contested marks and having the confidence to take the game on are among the next steps to take, by her own assessment.

She is one of many Queensland talent hoping to end up on an AFLW list in just a few days, with the 2021 draft set to go down on Tuesday, July 27.

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 6

THE 2021 NAB League season rolled on over the weekend despite a fourth Victorian lockdown, with a pair of Northern Academy derbies making up the extent of the Round 6 fixtures. It meant budding AFL Draft prospects from around the nation got their chance to shine on centre stage, and a good number of them impressed. Check out the top performers from both fixtures in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS: Round 6 snapshot

GWS GIANTS Academy 10.9 (69) def. Sydney Swans Academy 9.9 (63)
By: Michael Alvaro

GIANTS Academy:

#7 Matthew Hamblin

Hamblin finished as the most prolific GIANTS midfielder with 27 disposals and proved a productive runner among the centre bounce group. He showed a good step through traffic and was able to zip onto the outer with a few quick steps before disposing of the ball cleanly. Complimenting those bursts was one excellent example of repeat running in the second term, where Hamblin was involved at half-back, got the ball again as the GIANTS transitioned through the corridor, and was rewarded for his running effort as he received inside 50 and slotted a goal on the fly. He could have added a couple more majors, but put shots wide in terms one and four.

#21 Fraser Kelly

Kelly was one who rotated forward from midfield and had an impact in both roles, collecting 18 disposals and booting three goals. He finished well on the day and his third major was an important one to level the scores in term four, snapping home with aplomb. Around the ball, he showed clean hands and the ability to get his arms up while being tackled to keep the play moving. While some of his handball distribution fell short of the intended targets, Kelly looked stylish in tight spaces and under solid pressure at the contest.

#24 Sam Frost

The GIANTS Academy leader was a dominant aerial force across his side’s defensive 50, rising to take 10 grabs and looking to generate some forward momentum by foot on the rebound. He took on the kick-in duties, which aided his road to 30 disposals (24 kicks), and looked to have sharpened his execution a touch this time out. Frost’s intercept marking was the highlight of his game though, as he sat on opponents’ heads in one-on-one contests and floated across to cut off an array of Sydney attacks. It’s clear what his key strength is, and he played to it perfectly on this occasion.

#31 Josh Green

A top-age prospect who has garnered interest for the mid-season draft, Green was solid in this outing without being dominant. He used his strong frame on the inside to get over the ball and distribute out of congestion, with 18 of his 25 disposals coming by hand. He was clean in those situations, even under tackling pressure, and brought his teammates into the game by playing to his primary strength in congestion. Green also rotated forward and took a couple of decent grabs, with a two-bite mark in the second term leading to his lone goal of the game – a set shot conversion from 40 metres out.

Swans Academy:

#3 Felix Rogers

Rogers clearly has no trouble finding the ball and again proved as much by accumulating a game-high 34 disposals both inside and away from the contest. He positioned well at the back of stoppages to receive second possession and be released to burst forward with a short run and kick. The 18-year-old also turned feeder himself and found a way to consistently get his hands on the ball, while spreading well to accumulate around the ground. He lifted in term four when the game was on the line, getting busy in midfield despite his side falling short. Rogers also hit the scoreboard with a set shot goal in the third quarter and was arguably best afield.

#7 Pierce Roseby

Another small Swans midfielder who finds the ball at will, Roseby worked hard all day for his side in an offensive and defensive sense. He worked back well when stationed in midfield to provide an outlet option, generally using the ball well with his short kicking game. Roseby used the same kind of method forward of centre too, often marking inside 50 but looking to find the next short option within the arc. He seemed to spend a bit more time up forward in the second half but presented right up the ground and covered plenty of territory in the process, helping his side link out of defence and along the outer.

#15 Jeremy Woodford

Woodford was one who showed great class in possession and made his kicks count, despite not racking up as much as others. Stationed on the wing and moving the ball forward of centre, Woodford was able to link the Swans into attack from the outer, weighting well directed passes to centre half-forward and inside attacking 50. One such pass was a goal assist for Hugh McLeod in the second term, and that kind of execution proved a weapon at times. Woodford was also thrown into the centre bounces and showed nice spurts of agility, but looked more comfortable when operating in space and given the time to hit a target going forward.

#26 Angus Anderson

Providing a hard edge on the inside, Anderson competed well and looked to help set the tone for Sydney. He built into the game steadily, proving strong at the contest with attempts to bustle out of congestion and break tackles with strength. Those kind of efforts meant Anderson had a good amount of presence at stoppages, but he also spread well to boot a goal on the run in term two, while also dropping back to find the ball in defence when required.

Brisbane Lions Academy 7.7 (49) def. by Gold Coast SUNS Academy 13.18 (96)
By: Declan Reeve

Lions Academy:

#12 Saxon Crozier

Considered unlucky by some not to be picked up in last year’s draft, Crozier showed that he’s since worked on his football to enhance his stocks for this season. With one particular knock last season being his inside game, Crozier played the majority of the contest as a rover on his way to a game-high 34 disposals. He won the first clearance of the day which set the tone for how he would play, utilising his positional awareness and speed to win the ball around the ground and then use it well, especially when kicking, to get the Lions into good spots. He balanced his performance well, also featuring on the wing at times where he showed what people already knew he could do, holding his space and being a switch option before getting the ball and pumping it forward.

#23 Charlie Bowes

Utilising his speed and deadly long kick, Bowes was one of the standout users of the footy throughout the game. He often leant on his penetrative kick to break lines and get the ball well clear of the defensive 50. When he took the kick-ins, he’d back in his speed and take on the opponent on the mark, then once he had run his distance, kick it 50-plus meters low and hard to give his leading teammates the best chance of holding onto it. Not only able to bullet his kicks, when required he weighted them well for a teammate to run onto and take easily.

#26 Jack Briskey

The former Collingwood train-on player was solid defensively and dangerous offensively, providing a well rounded performance that is sure to catch some eyes. He was strong overhead, even when under pressure, to hold most marks he should’ve taken. His follow up disposal was also generally good, though missing a few kicks or failing to get much penetration remains an area of improvement. What’s most impressive about Briskey is his athleticism for a bigman – he possesses great speed which saw him go for a couple of runs, one in the second quarter was particularly notable, where he took on two opponents and took a couple of bounces, then kicked long inside 50. That speed, along with his great leap meant that he rarely allowed his opponents to take marks near him, as he could close down the space extremely quickly and then compete in the air to get a fist in and spoil the mark.

SUNS Academy:

#2 Max Pescud

Splitting his time between the forwardline and midfield, Pescud was arguably the spark that got Gold Coast piling on scores in the second and fourth quarters, bringing a nice bit of zip to the midfield group when he got the ball. He generally used it well, more inclined to place the ball in front of teammates rather than bullet it directly at them, making it easier to hold onto. When in the forwardline he was always dangerous, kicking the Suns’ first two goals of the game; one from a strong lead when the Suns got a turnover, and the next from crumbing from a pack and snapping it through the middle.

#4 Austin Harris

Whilst not accumulating massive numbers, the AFL Academy member added a bit of class out of the back half for the Suns, with his ball use and speed especially dangerous in transition. He got into the right spots trying to receive a handball on the outside of packs, with the times he was used in those situations generally resulting in a penetrating kick forward. Had an impressive display of composure in the third term, where he got the ball and managed to evade two opponents, then break a tackle and kick the ball laterally to a teammate. Through his efforts to be involved even when the ball wasn’t in the backline, he got up the ground and snagged a goal in the second quarter. He occasionally tried to do too much or opt for unrealistic targets, which is an area of his game he can look to iron out.

#22 Bailey Reeves

Starting the game up forward before being promptly moved into the midfield, Reeves was one of the leading ball winners for the Suns. In midfield, his balanced disposal was vital to his side winning the midfield battle, as he would often get first hands on it around the stoppages and then move it on via hand to an outside runner or kick long forward. In open play his kicking was accurate and sharp, giving his leading forwards to best chance to hold onto it and maintain their separation.

#35 Will Bella

The most dominant forward in the contest, Bella was able to easily out-body and out-reach opposition defenders in marking contests, making it almost a sure thing he was going to win one-on-ones. As the Lions defenders caught onto this strength, they started to look to outnumber him, forcing him to start leading a bit more and look to create separation which he did to varying success. He would’ve had more than just two goals if he had been a bit more accurate, with that conversion a part of his game that he’ll certainly look to work on. Looked comfortably the best ruck when he was rotating through there, winning taps and doing well as a ‘kick behind the play’ player.

The ‘Vescio Show’ takes over the Sunshine State

CARLTON star forward Darcy Vescio put on an absolute clinic at Metricon Stadium to lead the Blues to a dominant 60-point win over Gold Coast. Vescio collected 15 disposals and kicked a personal-best five goals in the performance, becoming the first AFLW player to boot 40 career goals in the process. If not for her unselfishness in the second half, Vescio could well have finished with seven or eight majors.

Vescio was well supported by speedster Georgia Gee (13 disposals, two marks), Breann Moody (16 disposals, six marks, one goal) and Grace Egan (19 disposals, four tackles). For the Suns, Alison Drennan (19 disposals, nine tackles) and Lauren Ahrens (18 disposals, four marks, five tackles) worked hard until the final siren.

With a score of 13.9 (87), the Blues broke the AFLW all-time scoring record of 12.14 (86) set by the Western Bulldogs during their premiership-winning 2018 season. This was a must-win clash for Carlton to stay in the finals hunt, and a healthy percentage boost was always going to help their cause. The match marked the first time that Carlton has played outside Victoria this season, so it was going to be interesting to see how they came out of the blocks.

To the shock of many, it was Gold Coast who got off to a flyer. The hosts got the ball out the back of Carlton’s defence very easily in the opening minutes. Firstly, Samantha Virgo got out the back and dribbled through a clever goal on the outside of her boot, and then Maddison Levi sprinted onto the end of a kick over the top to put through the Suns’ second. Carlton’s defence was slow and shaky at the outset, while Gold Coast were getting first hands on the ball in the middle. After Drennan kicked the Suns’ third, Carlton lifted their intensity and were able shift the momentum. Gee produced some brilliant play down the wing to allow Vescio to kick the Blues’ first. Soon after, reigning AFLW Best and Fairest Maddy Prespakis missed a golden opportunity to kick the Blues’ second, so the Suns took a 12-point advantage into quarter time.

Vescio looked more dangerous up forward in the second, kicking two consecutive left foot snaps out of congestion to give the Blues the lead. While the Suns got multiple inside 50s, they were ineffective with their ball use going forward and Carlton’s defence put up much greater resistance. After Vescio missed a chance at her fourth from straight in front, first-year Sun Lucy Single made her pay by using her pace through the middle of the ground and kicking an incredible Goal of the Year contender. Despite this, Natalie Plane kicked a nice goal straight from the next centre clearance to give Carlton back the lead going into the main break.

Vescio opened the third with her fourth goal, and the Suns were immediately on the back foot. This is where Carlton opened up the margin, as they held the Suns goalless in the third term and kicked five goals of their own. Although Gold Coast could get the ball inside 50, Carlton repeatedly had numbers back and counterattacked with force. They went coast-to-coast and Lucy McEvoy steadied to kick her first, then Nicola Stevens took a strong contested mark and kicked truly. When Vescio set up Brooke Walker for another major, Carlton had kicked eight of the last nine goals for the game. Lauren Brazzale extended the Blues’ lead to an unrecoverable margin for Gold Coast at three-quarter time.

The ‘Vescio Show’ continued in the final term, as she took a classic high mark in the goal square and drilled her fifth. She then unselfishly set up ex-Demon Elise O’Dea for a goal with a handball over the top, and Plane kicked her second to bring the Blues to within striking distance of the AFLW scoring record. With under a minute remaining in the contest, Moody became the player to officially break the record by taking a contested mark and kicking truly from a set shot.

For Carlton’s finals hopes to remain alive, they must win their clash against GWS at Blacktown next Sunday and hope for other results to go their way. Meanwhile, Gold Coast will aim to end their difficult season on a high when they take on the bottom-placed Geelong at Metricon on Saturday.

GOLD COAST 3.1 | 4.2 | 4.2 | 4.3 (27)
CARLTON 1.1 | 4.4 | 9.5 | 13.9 (87)

GOALS:
Gold Coast: L. Single, S. Virgo, M. Levi, A. Drennan 1.
Carlton: D. Vescio 5, N. Plane 2, B. Walker, L. McEvoy, B. Moody, N. Stevens, L. Brazzale, E. O’Dea 1.

DC BEST:
Gold Coast: A. Drennan, L. Ahrens, L. Single, K. Howarth, K. Surman.
Carlton: D. Vescio, G. Gee, B. Moody, V. Laloifi, G. Egan.

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

 

For more AFLW news and analysis, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

2021 AFLW Preview: Gold Coast Suns

GOLD COAST achieved a finals berth in its inaugural AFL Women’s campaign, exceeding expectations and setting a promising base for its second go-around at the elite level. With a new set of co-captains and a bumper draft crop, the Suns will be hoping to shine just as bright in 2021 and again feature in the postseason.

2020 RECAP

A one-point loss in a two-goal game served as Gold Coast’s AFL Women’s introduction and the Suns did not have to wait long for their maiden win as they trumped fellow newcomer, Richmond in Round 2. The competition’s first Q-Clash resulted in a thrilling draw at Metricon Stadium, with fans and pundits alike taking note of the side’s tenacity and youthful exuberance. Back-to-back losses pegged back Gold Coast’s momentum, but a second win against another expansion side in West Coast ensured the Suns would qualify for a surprise finals appearance. The undefeated Fremantle saw that the glory would be short-lived, trouncing the Queensland side by 70 points in the first postseason round.

NEW FACES

Former North Melbourne and St Kilda midfielder Alison Drennan was Gold Coast’s lone trade signing, promising to provide another strong body and some experience among the Suns’ engine room. The draft was where Gold Coast did most of its work, nabbing some strong local talent at bargain value and completing a haul of eight fresh faces.

Annise Bradfield was the first Queenslander called out on the night and looms as another midfielder who could crack the starting lineup straight away. The Suns nabbed Maddison Levi at pick 50, a steal at that range with Brisbane out of draft calculations. The tall forward should add some strength to her new side’s front half alongside Sarah Perkins, who was snapped up at pick 23 and slotted straight into the leadership group.

Levi was one of six Suns selected after pick 50, with four of them local talents and two coming from other states. Janet Baird, an NT native should deliver even more firepower to the forward half and some dash elsewhere, while Elizabeth Kearney comes in from the VFLW system.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

A surprise pick-up at the draft, no less at pick 23, was Perkins. The journeywoman key forward is the perfect addition for Gold Coast’s young side; both in terms of the role she fills and the character she brings. A former premiership player and All-Australian with Adelaide, Perkins is fresh off three appearances for Melbourne as a top-up player last year and gets a lifeline at her third club. She is well known already, but could well prove a key figure in this emerging Suns side which has previously lacked potency.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

Defence. The Suns may have lost four games last season and the last one came by 70 points, but they laid claim to the fifth-best defensive record in terms of points conceded overall. Structure from the back half is the first base good teams build in the modern game, and Gold Coast seems to have made great strides in that department early on. Youthful exuberance is another reason the Suns can go far, with their never-say-die attitude allowing them to bring it to highly fancied teams on any given day.

QUESTION MARK

Attack. Only the bottom two teams managed to score less points than the Suns in 2020, with a season-high total of 34 not exactly making for formidable reading. The Suns were also kept to just one goal twice during their maiden campaign and while they have bolstered the front half at the draft, have plenty of work to do to become a potent attacking unit.

FINAL WORD

The Suns are an exciting young side with plenty of scope to match their achievement of finals qualification in year one. There may be some downs with the ups, but this Queensland side has already shown great spirit and should only be better for the raft of inclusions they have made. Expect the Suns to ruffle some feathers and create upsets against good teams caught lacking.

Image Credit: Gold Coast Suns/AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft recap: Gold Coast SUNS

GOLD COAST took great strides in 2020 and became one of the more enjoyable sides to watch, with a raft of young talent helping the Queensland-based team to 14th place after consecutive bottom-two finishes. The Suns came into this draft having done most of their work beforehand, making the most of concessions afforded to them by the AFL to pre-list a couple of top 25 academy talents and rookie three more, while also snaring a genuine slider with Pick 7. Some senior names were also given extended chances through the Rookie Draft, making what looks like a slender draft haul at first glance a rather deep and valuable one for the rising Suns.

GOLD COAST

National Draft:
#7 Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Pre-listings:
Alex Davies (Broadbeach/Allies)
Joel Jeffrey (NT Thunder/Wanderers/Allies)

Rookies:
Jacob Townsend (Essendon), Jack Hombsch (Re-listed), Jordan Murdoch (Re-listed), Aiden Fyfe (Broadbeach/Academy), Rhys Nicholls (Labrador/Academy), Hewago Paul Oea (Cat B)

It was a rather short and sweet National Draft for Gold Coast – the same could not be said for viewers who stayed the course – with Pick 7 its only live selection. Elijah Hollands, a dynamic midfielder/forward with top three value, was the Suns’ man having slid down the order when North Melbourne’s selection of Will Phillips saw the dominoes fall differently than expected. The Murray Bushrangers product has exactly the kind of star quality which Gold Coast looks for at the top end, and while he may not see any game time for the first half of his debut season as he recovers from an ACL tear, he could well become the best player out of this year’s crop down the line.

He joins pre-listed academy guns Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey on the Suns’ primary list, essentially meaning three top 25 prospects were landed for the price of one. Davies is a big-bodied inside midfielder who excels at the contest with his clean hands and poise in traffic, which made him Queensland’s top talent from a while back. Jeffrey comes in via the Suns’ access to the Darwin zone and brings terrific athleticism as a swingman. He will likely start in defence but could just as easily utilise his aerial nous as a lead-up forward with serious speed and goal sense.

Among the other academy graduates to hit the bigtime were Rhys Nicholls and Aiden Fyfe. Both were pre-listed rookie selections but had their names called out in that draft, while International Scholarship holder Hewego Paul Oea earned Category B status prior to the draft. Nicholls and Fyfe are both aggressive forward runners who can play off half-back or the wing, while ‘Ace’ Oea is a Papua New Guinea native known for his exciting speed and raw talent in the forward half. All three are prospective picks who should provide decent squad depth in the long-term.

The Suns also snared a fresh face, but one familiar to the competition in Jacob Townsend through the Rookie Draft. The 27-year-old joins his fourth AFL club and will add some experience to the forwardline. Meanwhile, Jack Hombsch and Jordan Murdoch were also taken with rookie picks as re-listed players who have been granted another chance in the Suns’ squad. The primary listing of Davies and Jeffrey pushed a number of senior names onto an extended rookie list, which again ties into concessions afforded by the AFL.

Featured Image: The SUNS’ pre-listed Academy talents | Credit: SUNS Media

Quartet shine bright as Gold Coast confirms pre-listed players

GOLD Coast Suns have confirmed their four pre-listed players today with Aiden Fyfe, Alex Davies, Joel Jeffrey and Rhys Nicholls all committing to the club ahead of the 2020 AFL Draft. Under the AFL rules that came in prior to the 2019 AFL Draft the Suns were able to pre-list players without having to match bids on them, and have opted to select these four talented players.

Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey were long touted as Top 25 prospects and were expected to be pre-listed from very early on in the year. For Aiden Fyfe and Rhys Nicholls, it is a reward for effort throughout 2020, having had sensational seasons with Broadbeach and Labrador in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) competition respectively.

Here is all you need to know Suns’ fans:

AIDEN FYFE DRAFT PROFILE
POSITION:
 Outside Midfielder/Defender
DRAFT ANALYSIS: “Fyfe is a tall winger who is arguably better suited at half-back where he can take the game on in transition”

ALEX DAVIES DRAFT PROFILE
POSITION: Inside Midfielder
DRAFT ANALYSIS: “Davies is a strong inside midfielder with clean hands, poise, and agility, making him one of the prime extractors in this year’s cohort”

JOEL JEFFREY DRAFT PROFILE
POSITION: Key Position Utility
DRAFT ANALYSIS: “Jeffrey is an exciting key position prospect who utilises his terrific reading of the ball in flight and athleticism at either end of the ground”

RHYS NICHOLLS DRAFT PROFILE
POSITION: Medium Defender/Outside Midfielder
DRAFT ANALYSIS: “Nicholls is a quick, clean midfielder/defender who showed some promising signs in 2020”

Picture: Gold Coast Suns