AFLW Insight: 'Lazy' Suns not too far behind fellow expansion clubs

ON THE surface, Gold Coast has had a horror start to the year.

Four matches, four losses and a percentage of 26.3 which has the Suns sitting last on the ladder, the latest second-half effort against Fremantle labelled as "lazy" by coach David Lake.

The Suns are the lowest-scoring team with the leakiest defence.

But start digging a little deeper and the Suns aren't trailing too far behind the other winless teams, all of whom can be classified as expansion sides.

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Gold Coast has played Fremantle (first), Brisbane (third) and Melbourne (fifth) – all high-scoring fifth-year sides, blowing that percentage out of the water – as well as GWS (10th), the loss which would have stung the most.

They've scored only 51 points, but Geelong has had a similarly ordinary forward output with 56 points.

And in defence, they've conceded 194 points, but fellow winless sides West Coast (192) and Geelong (191) are on a similar level.

AFLW Match Highlights: Fremantle v Gold Coast

04:02 Feb 20. 2021. 7:10 PM

The Dockers and Suns clash in round four of the NAB AFL Women's competition

A fledgling team in transition

It would be an over-simplification to say Gold Coast has crashed from finalists to last place on the ladder.

The Suns qualified for finals as the fourth-place team (of seven) in Conference A – a system which has since been abandoned – as the AFL increased the number of finalists in what was ultimately an aborted attempt to crown a premier before COVID-19 shut down the season.

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Gold Coast had competed well in its first season – two wins, three losses, a draw and a percentage of 101.3 – before being blown out of the water by a rampaging Fremantle in the semi-final. Those two wins came against fellow newbies Richmond and West Coast.

The Trade Period was an interesting one for the Suns, delisting five players (the equal-most of any side, alongside the Eagles) while young talented duo Charlotte Hammans and Taylor Smith were traded to Carlton and Gold Coast respectively.

Former Saint Ali Drennan was added to the side and has had a big impact in the midfield, with her own form improving markedly as she spends more time on the ball than at her previous teams.

 

Disposals

Marks

Tackles

Games

2019 (NM)

8.4

0.7

4.7

7

2020 (StK)

12.4

1.0

4.4

5

2021 (GC)

17.8

1.8

6.3

4

Gold Coast brought eight players in through the draft, after experienced duo Tiarna Ernst (retirement) and Jasmyn Hewett (work commitments in her hometown of Darwin) became unavailable.

Of the eight, just Sarah Perkins had previous AFLW experience.

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Annise Bradfield (now sidelined with a torn ACL), Maddison Levi, Lucy Single and Daisy D'Arcy are all 18-year-olds who made their debuts in round one.

Janet Baird (21) and Bess Keaney (29) have experience playing in Darwin and Melbourne respectively, while 19-year-old Wallis Randell is a former basketballer who has only picked up footy relatively recently.

Randell is the sole draftee yet to debut, leading to a very fresh Suns side taking to the field this year.

Perkins pumped after kicking maiden Suns goal

00:22 Jan 30. 2021. 3:47 PM

Sarah Perkins takes a strong mark and kicks her first Gold Coast major after the quarter-time siren

Structural issues and "lazy" players

Coach David Lake wasn't mincing words in his post-match press conference following Saturday's loss to Fremantle.

The Suns had kicked the opening goal of the match but failed to hit the scoreboard thereafter, falling away in the second half while the Dockers piled on 55 consecutive points.

The quotes read as if Lake was furiously blasting his players, but they were delivered in a matter-of-fact manner – this is where the Suns are, and this is how they can improve.

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"I thought we worked pretty hard in there (stoppages). But it's really hard when you win the ball – and Drennan in that last quarter when she tried to give us something – and you look up and you've got a one-on-five in front of you, that's really hard," Lake said.

"That [forward is] someone who has worked hard up (the field) who has had the energy to work back (towards goal). I thought we let ourselves down badly in that area.

"They were lazy … you get back and you work and then you work back the other way, and that's the way you're meant to prepare yourself. That's a mindset that's hard.

"It's not local footy, so if you're not prepared at that level, you're going to find it difficult to play. There were some really crystal-clear lessons in that for the players who want to play at the level, I felt."

Sunday's clash against West Coast – along with Lake's stinging rebuke – will give a much better indication of where Gold Coast is in comparison to its direct peers, the sides it entered the competition alongside last year.

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