Many heads were shaking, and none of them belonged to Gold Coast supporters at Etihad Stadium.
In front of what we’d call a “modest” crowd, the Gold Coast Suns continued their impressive start to the season, claiming their second victim, Carlton.
The Blues couldn’t hit targets, and the Suns’ defensive intensity caused error after error. When the defence didn’t cause it, skill errors by the Blues occurred anyway.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad, and ugly.
Suns’ willingness to run for each other.
Whether it was to create an option for a teammate, or lay a shepherd, the Suns looked as though they genuinely wanted to look after their mates out there. Running twenty metres to obstruct a potential tackler is an art lost in modern football. Stuart Dew and his boys look as though they’re bringing it back.
This is the Tom Lynch that the Gold Coast are desperate to retain, and everyone else is desperate to obtain. 8 goals, 20+ disposals and being in the right place at the right time underpinned a great team performance. Liam Jones drifted off him several times, the Gold Coast mids made him pay.
Twice Lynch found himself all alone, taking uncontested marks well within kicking distance. It was an ominous warning to future defenders – zone off Lynch at your own risk.
Most impressive moment for Lynch came with seven minutes remaining in the game. In a one on one contest, Lynch disposed of the Jacob Weitering tackle and instead of firing away for his ninth goal, centred the ball beautifully to Aaron Young. It was the team thing to do, and before there’s any more talk of which team he’ll be with next year, teams need to contend with this team right now; Lynch’s team. The Gold Coast Suns.
Hats off to Ed Curnow and Nick Holman, who were both given big jobs. Curnow was given the job of curtailing the influence of Aaron Hall. The result – Curnow collected a game high 37 touches, although how effective they were remains an issue. His opponent had 20, but many came towards the end of the game, and his influence was negligible.
Holman’s game on the Round One hero, Patrick Cripps, was more impressive. Though Cripps collected 24 touches, he was nowhere near the influence he was the week before. Holman added 10 tackles to his 15 disposals
Witts’ eyes would have lit up when he heard that Matthew Kreuzer was a late withdrawal. Kreuzer’s groin didn’t come up (haha) and Witts had a field day in the ruck against Levi Casboult, who was outmatched whenever the ball was in dispute.
Witts’ modest stats of 13 disposals and three marks bely his influence, as he constantly put the ball at the feet of his mids. One tap in particular near the beginning of the first quarter saw the ball belted forward and into the waiting arms of Ben Ainsworth for a goal.
The Charlie Curnow v Steven May match up.
While many would point to the Lynch-Jones match as pivotal, May’s ability to nullify Curnow, particularly after Charlie started to get on top in the second quarter, was just as important.
Curnow looked to have found his groove in the second, kicking two goals, though one did come from a questionable free kick.
May’s third quarter on Curnow was fantastic, so much so that Curnow started floating up to the half back line in the fourth to get his hands on the ball.
First quarter Carlton delivery
It was as though Carlton watched the previous night’s St Kilda v North Melbourne match up and decided to pay homage to it.
Interestingly, I listened to a podcast during the week where James Hird discussed how the ball always seemed to travel differently at Etihad – almost as though it floated more than at other grounds. If it has any truth to it, the Blues may want to look at it, as Carlton missed targets left right, and centre in the first.
Both Ed Curnow and Lachie Plowman were responsible for terrible delivery into fifty, giving Charlie Curnow and company little chance. Conversely, at the other end we had Darcy MacPherson centering the ball beautifully to Lynch. The two teams were like chalk and cheese, and the scoreboard reflected it.
Two Blues did not touch the ball at all in the first – Jarrod Garlett and Jacob Weitering.
Liam Jones’ zoning off.
Some weeks it works, and other weeks it doesn’t. This week, it didn’t.
When a player like Lynch can stand by himself and mark the ball in almost that exact spot he called for it, despite the ball coming in from outside fifty, you know your tactic is not working.
What is really interesting is that we’ve seen teams do their homework in the young reason on Jake Lever, Alex Rance and now, Liam Jones in the way they’re delivering into the forward line.
Might mean some adjustments to defences in the coming weeks.
Forget those talking about McCartin and his failure to deliver as a number one pick, the knives will soon come out for Jacob Weitering after today’s performance.
After going stat-less in the first, he managed one in the second to be the least effective player on the ground at half time. Now, a player not getting a lot of touches can be blown up by the media. A defender may be doing a great job nullifying their man and niot get much of the ball himself. I wish that were the case for Weitering here.
He looked slow. Not just straight-line kind of slow, but slow to react, slow to make decisions, slow to adjust. He looked like a player who was a bit lost, and at this stage in his career (year three) he should be making strides forward, not backwards.
Hopefully this is a speed bump that he’ll get over and continue to roll on. As long as it does not become a mental roadblock, he should be fine.
Kade Simpson’s cross goal pass
Credit the Gold Coast defence here. Simpson simply ran out of options as he ran across goal. Captain Hindsight checking in here – a long kick so Dwayne Russell could say “makes it someone else’s problem” would’ve been better.
He chipped short, to a contest and the ball ended up in the hands of Tom Lynch to slot it through from the goal square. Kade won’t do that again, perhaps for the rest of his career.
I watched Jack Martin with interest. He is a great talent, and should almost be held to the same standards as Jaeger O’Meara is now, coming from a mini-draft and having plenty of injuries. He looked great, and slammed home the first goal almost as though telling me to shut up and get off his back. He added two more.
Lachie Weller cost a bomb to get to Gold Coast. 14 touches and starting in the back pocket means that either the Suns are being patient with him, or he needs to prove he deserves to run around in the midfield.
Some of the defensive exits from both teams were disastrous. Many of these came AFTER the big pressure of the defensive fifty area. It was almost as though teams felt a bit of relief after exiting fifty, and would then relax on the next disposal, only to see it go straight back in. The Suns made the Blues pay much more on this.
Garlett could’ve pulled in mark of the year in Round Two. Looked like he either took his eyes off it, or got scared about how high he was up there.
Charlie Curnow’s first goal was textbook stuff. Quick centre break, long ball from Mullett and Curnow reads it better off the boot. Chest mark – goal.
Tom Lynch’s sidestep of Ciaran Byrne to slot his fourth was a thing of beauty.
There was a definite momentum shift in the last ten minutes of the second quarter. Carlton dominated play but didn’t hit the scoreboard.
He chipped short, the ball was turned over and Lynch received for an easy goal. It was a crucial time of the game too. The Blues were making a push at the time.
Jack Martin continued giving me the finger by taking on Liam Jones in the air and breaking even.
Nice to see Cripps and Dow connect early in the third. Unfortunately, Cripps failed to convert.
Weitering got a nasty hit in a marking contest at full forward. Nothing in it from Jack Bowes, but he did collect him front on.
Rory Thompson had a nice five minutes in defence for the Suns. Repelled repeated Carlton attacks in the third.
Jack Martin gets credit for the goal, but Darcy MacPherson’s contest in the air to bring the ball to ground, was just as impressive.