The Q clash - The Lions held on in a rarely-seen spectacle at Metricon.
Here’s Jared Smith's good, bad and ugly.
The Showdown, between the two Adelaide teams, is and should be, on everyone’s list as one of the most anticipated home-and-away games of the season. Form becomes irrelevant and two teams that don’t get along, with two fan bases that absolutely despise each other, go head to head. And they very rarely fail to entertain. The Western Derby has a similar feel from a rivalry perspective but the actual games haven’t been quite as exciting over the last few seasons. Even the Battle of The Bridge has some credibility, due mostly, to the maintained elite quality of both teams. But the QClash has almost never had any of that.
Until Now…. Well sort of. There’s still a long way to go, but I believe this was a step in the right direction. From the start of the game, you got the feeling there was something in this. For those unaware, during the week, in an interview, Brisbane defender Nick Robertson labelled the Suns as “soft”. Robertson didn’t seem to pull back at all on his own comments, much to the displeasure of his coach, Chris Fagan; and the Gold Coast outfit didn't shy away from letting him know how they felt about the comments.
The commentators on FoxFooty were very critical of the Suns for being so aggressive, especially in the second quarter as things started to heat up, suggesting that they were overreacting to the comments during the week. I have to strongly disagree with their assessment of the situation. The Suns gave up one 50m penalty in the second, which granted, is usually the point when you realise emotion has gotten the better of a player or team and now it’s completely to their detriment. But let’s not forget that the Suns have been an insipid team for most of the year. If one 50m penalty is the price Stuart Dew has to pay for his team to play out a whole game with fire, passion, aggression and belief, then I’m certain he’d take that.
And on the flip side, we have the Lions. Sure, both teams are hanging out together at the arse end of the ladder, but Brisbane would know that they’ve been in significantly better form since the these two met earlier on the season, and boy did they want to let the Suns know about it. They came out of the blocks firing and went into the quarter time break with the lead everyone expected. Had they capitalised on a few more opportunities they probably could have put the Suns to bed, but you couldn’t fault their intent or attacking brand of footy.
Soon everyone will forget about this exact result and everyone has probably already forgotten about Robertson's comments, but the players and the fans will remember the rivalry, and that’s the stuff that Showdown’s are made of.
The Gold Coast Football Club
Sure Brisbane technically won the game, but I can’t help but feel like the Suns would have to be internally celebrating as well. All that I mentioned above is all well and good for the QClash rivalry, but truthfully, the Lions didn’t really need a boost like that. They’re already matching it with the best and showing great signs, week in, week out. Gold Coast needed this, they needed something. After claiming the Sydney Scalp, the Suns fans needed to see their side be competitive at home and show the home crowd signs of what the future could hold.
With the clubs first captain playing elsewhere and one of their current co-captains (and biggest star player) offield, picking which new side to join, the Club needed a win. And even though they didn’t get the four points, based on everything I’ve said above, I think they can finish the season holding on to something.
Who knows, maybe they can take this belief and win their last game for the season.
** He says, frantically checking fixture for next week **
Oh, the Cats in Geelong. Nevermind.
Stefan Martin. Late mark. Won ruck
I won’t spend too much time on this one.
Stefan Martin dominated this game.
The stat sheet will show that Martin had 38 hit-outs. Witts had 31. What that doesn’t factor in is everything else. Martin hit it to a teammate, instead of just… up. He tackled, he spoiled, he crashed packs, he found the ball and used it well.
Also, his contested grab at the end of the game ensured his side’s victory.
All round, a very solid game from the big man.
Bowes, Sexton, Fiorini
I’ll be honest, I don’t watch a heap of Gold Coast games. If someone asked me to pick a favourite player, I don’t know what I’d say. Maybe Swallow when he’s on. Maybe Weller from his docker days. I certainly know some, but do I switch on the TV to watch any of them, no. However, these three might have me on the turn.
The Lions kicked the first three of the game, relatively unopposed. At the other end, The Suns were doing their gosh-darndest to be opposed. There was one particular play that I’ll mention below that was horrific but basically, no one in a Suns uniform wanted to kick a goal. They kept over handballing and I was worried no one would take responsibility. Until Alex Sexton came along. He kicked three of the the Suns first 4 goals. They were all on the run, all a bit risky, all a bit frantic and all moral boosters for his team. In all three, he COULD have justified giving it off to a teammate but he SHOULD not have, so he didn’t. Even if you put aside how flashy and exciting his game was, 19 disposals at 89.5% efficiency with 4 goals straight is a fair day at the office.
Jack Bowes. It seemed like every time a Suns player I didn’t recognise did something I really liked, it turned out to be Jack Bowes. From the great grab at the start of the game (which was not capitalised on, unfortunately) to the great, desperate smother at the end of the game, Bowes was in everything that was hotly contested, all night. Even if he didn’t get the ball, he was doing something good. After the week that’s been, do you think he just licked his lips when Robertson slipped in the pocket and he could wrap him up for a clear holding the ball free? Good on him for sensing what the crowd really wanted and converting that one for them too. The one time, while I was riding the Jack Bowes train, he absolutely butchered a kick, absurdly low and impossible for a teammate to collect, I was just starting to feel disappointed when Sexton somehow found it and kicked his fourth (and best!). All of Bowes’ clearance work was his starring point this evening, but the quick step around a few Lions out of the middle in the 2nd term was phenomenal.
And when Bowes didn’t have it, Brayden Fiorini did.
Fiorini probably took a bit longer to get going that either of his above counterparts, but he kept working hard and started to find plenty of the ball, finishing with 32 touches.
He was a workhorse in a midfield that was up against it today and his snap goal in the 2nd was excellent.
I hate to say it, but this was a day to forget for the young star.
Pretty early in the game I was getting frustrated that he would do one really good thing then one really bad thing. He’d lead really well, then he’d drop the mark. He’d take a great mark, then he’d spray the set shot. He’d burn May with his dash, then he’d kick it off balance on the run and spray it far to the side. Unfortunately for him, in the second half, I think the thing that stopped was him doing the initial good things.
Hipwood kicked 0.4, and I’m sure there were a few more missed opportunities that didn’t register the scoreboard. I’ll give him a pass for missing the bomb, directly in front, hooking onto his left, 50m out, though it would be great if he could ping those; but if he kicks the three VERY GETTABLE goals early, then the Suns go into quarter time with no hope whatsoever. He could have all but iced the game early, and he didn’t.
On top of all that, he amassed 11 disposals at 18.2%. That’s two effective disposals in a game.
If next year, Hipwood doesn’t have the breakout season we’re all waiting for, I’d start to get frustrated in the young talent.
Now, I am wholeheartedly in the camp that adores AFL, every week, and hates all the negative rhetoric around the “state of the game”. However, this evening's game has, like many other games, shown examples of two clear issues with the way the rules are currently being adjudicated.
Firstly, protected area.
Now, the media and the fans alike have kicked up a great fuss in recent times over the rule changes to deliberate out of bounds and two-man ruck contests. Eventually, the waters settled and although they can both still be very controversial each week, everyone has learnt to live with them. At this stage, it just doesn’t seem like that will be happening with the protected area rule and I think the reason is because a 50m penalty is bloody harsh. Tonight, Holman clearly made an effort to change direction to exit the protected area and in doing so made no meaningful or even minor impact on the kicker. And yet, Christenson kicked a goal because of it. I’ll remind the reader that the game was decided by less than a goal.
Now I’m not saying the umpires cost the Suns the game; their terrible ball usage (especially in the first quarter) cost them the game. On the whole, I thought the umpiring was quite good, but this sort of thing happens every week and I think it’s at a point where we realise, it doesn’t matter how consistently it’s paid, if the penalty is that extreme, people are just, never going to be happy about it. Can the AFL please stop trying to make a long goal square and sort this out first?
Secondly, do you remember when “kicking in danger” was a rule? Well, it still is. I think I’ve heard it paid once this year and I nearly fell out of my seat. I don’t know why but “kicking in danger” has become the fax machine of AFL rules. I bring it up because, it’s exactly what Hodgey did in the second quarter but of course, it was not paid.
I recognise that there’s some grey area with it working sometimes against the “contact below the knees” rule. But that rule was brought in to alleviate players from sliding into other players and taking their legs out from under them but it appears to be used to discourage players from just trying to win the ball. In any case, Hodgey was basically kicking it out of someone’s hands so I’m even more perplexed as to why that wasn’t paid. I really wouldn’t mind, but it happens every week. Add that to your “sort out” list Gil.
Suns early usage inside 50
There were a few passages of play in the first quarter that I had to a watch several times. On one particular occasion, if my memory serves me correctly, Holman marked the ball maybe 45 out on a half-decent angle. He played on and kicked it deep into the goal square but not deep enough for it to actually be a goal (already a bad piece of football). For some obscure reason, young Starcevich didn’t belt it across the line (we’ll call it nerves) and instead fumbled it into the hands of Barlow who had been played completely out of position. Barlow then twisted and turned and tried to run away from goals for a more clear shot. He was worried out of it all by Lester who had covered his younger teammate extremely well. Barlow handballed to an unsuspecting Touk Miller who paused long enough to snap it straight into the closing arms of Lester. Trust me, it was a mess. Until Sexton came along, for so long, no one wanted to take responsibility for themselves and kick the bloody thing.
Now I’ve sung the praises of this game a bit in this article and I think I’m justifying that by thinking about expectations. But let it be known, the play was not always pretty. In fact, it was often, not pretty. If your watching a high pressure game, sometimes it’s hard to get an accurate read on how poor the disposals are because you can’t tell the degree to which they’re forced. That was not the case in this game. People would have plenty of time to figure out what to do and still make a terrible decision. Moreover, I think when you watch the really good teams, you’ll see players turn a good disposal into a great one, there was almost none of that in this game.
Witherden down with a Hammy.
I’m in several minds about this one. On one hand I’m proud of the Lions for finishing the game without Witherden and I guess I recognise that with only one game to go, if he’s done a hammy badly, now is a much better time than most with only the single game remaining. But on the other hand, Alex Witherden is comfortably one of my favourite young players and I would just love to see him finish his breakout year strongly!
We’ll have to wait for the scans I imagine.
I cannot explain why I haven’t put Beams in the “good” category. Statistically he was clearly best on ground and won the medal for his efforts. Perhaps I just have very high standards for him.
I find it concerning when I hear the commentators refer to the “Young Crossley” for Gold Coast. Apparently he’s 19 but I’d like a score review of his birth certificate because he looks like 45 year old biker
Lewis Taylor was in everything for the Lions early. He kicked the first goal out of the pack, set up another not long afterwards with an elite quick handball and kept finding ways to dominate. Then he really tapered off until he came back for another short period later in the game. I find him to be a very patchy player.
Speaking of Lewis Taylor though.
All the talk around Jack Higgins’ infamous acrobatic goal of a few weeks back had everyone saying “it was a throw”, “it was not a throw” or “who cares, it was awesome, pay it!” The boundary umpire at Metricon obviously doesn’t subscribe to the latter theory because had it not been paid out of bounds, Taylor’s goal on the run from DEEP in the pocket would have even challenged Higgins for goal of the year. But alas, it was called back.
Harris Andrews punches way too much for my liking. It’s his only Achilles Heel. He’ll often spoil a ball into a more dangerous position. Better teams will punish him more than the Suns did. If he can just mark a few more, he’ll be All Australian. All that said, i really liked Fagan’s move to throw him forward later to not only make May accountable, but beat him. One of my favourite defenders kicking goals on one of my least favourite defenders is always a treat.
Just as I was writing down that i thought Rayner had been quiet, he kicked that MONSTER from 60m. He still didn’t have many touches, but it’s hard to call someone “quiet” when they’re doing that.
Weller’s chase-down tackle on Berry was exquisite.
I’ve mentioned him already above, but I really liked Lester’s game. Especially in the absence of Witherden. They don’t play the same role usually but I feel like Lester was still able to fill that void with his pressure and cool head.
In the End, the QClash was significantly better than expected. I don’t know if there would have been too many Brisbane fans that absolutely despise their younger brother counterpart. I wonder how that will change if we keep getting close matches between the two.
I'd like to thank Jared for putting his hand up and doing a great job on the review. This is something that simply wouldn't have seen the light of day without his effort, so I extend to him my utmost gratitude.
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