If this disappoints, I apologise in advance.
How do you compile a good, bad and ugly column when the good was on one side of the ledger and the bad and ugly were all on the other side?
We could simply make this a celebration of the dominant Crows win? I’m sure there’d be a few people out there who’d read it. I like the Crows – tipped them for the flag, and was even a believer in them last season when the wheels had come off and were rolling towards an early finish to the season.
Or I could do an absolute burial of the Suns, given some of their players looked like they were well and truly over it 15 minutes into the game. Again, while there is a segment of the community who may enjoy that… really, there is a segment of the community that just wants to savour in the suffering of others – they’re called assholes, I won’t be doing that.
Yeah, we’ll point out some things here and there, and there’ll be pats on the back where warranted and kicks in the pants as well, but let’s not go overboard.
BOYS V MEN
There were times in this game when you looked at the matchups and the size difference was just astonishing. We had Charlie Ballard standing alongside Josh Jenkins. There’d have to be 15 kilograms of muscle difference. Or we had Ben King trotting down back to stand next to Taylor Walker – Tex was almost twice as wide.
It gives an indication as to what Stuart Dew has to work with at the moment. He has potential and hope. That’s about it.
But for unselfishness, Walker could have had five goals, and many could argue he needed a bag to shut people up. It speaks volumes about his character that he had the chance to ping away at goal on several occasions and opted to lower his eyes. Jenkins too, was trying to get others involved.
Eddie Betts… not so much! :)
In the middle you had the Crouch brothers, Rory Sloane and Hugh Greenwood against Anthony Miles, David Swallow and Touk Miller. Hardly seems fair, does it?
And then there was Alex Keath and Daniel Talia as key defenders just picking off almost every inside 50 the Suns got. Who did they have to combat those two? No Peter Wright – they had Josh Corbett, who has played nine games, and Sam Day, who has been there since day one, but can’t get his body right. The results were as you’d expect.
The Suns looked tired, as though the season has taken its toll on them, and Dew has already got everything he could out of them. But there are problems with this – big problems.
So this off-season will be crucial to the Gold Coast Suns. They need to re-sign Lukosius (a possibility) and Ben King (highly unlikely) and get them to commit to the club long-term. Not only that, they need to sell Gold Coast as a team with the potential to be something in the next three years.
Free agents, or even players out of contract need to look at the Suns as a viable option, and Gold Coast need to sell themselves to the AFL community as more than a training ground for other teams to harvest when they see fit, and a retirement home for those too past it to get games at their original clubs.
Out of contract after this season are Stephen Coniglio, Adam Tomlinson, Brandon Ellis and the Adelaide pairing of Hugh Greenwood and Cam Ellis-Yolmen. Every time the Suns play now, they are not just trying to convince Lukosius and King to stay – they’re trying to demonstrate to potential mature-age players that they have a bit to work with. 100-point whackings don’t get that across.
Nor do players standing in the goal square alone, receiving Joe the Goose handballs from teammates having set shots from 20 metres out. Whilst I was pleased for Tyson Stengle to get his first goal, I was disgusted with the lack of attention to detail from the Suns. Again… baaaaad advertising.
THE LESSER LIGHTS
Whilst many would have been pleased to see Eddie Betts kick six, or Tex and JJ start to exert some dominance, the Adelaide role-players will prove so important in the run to the finals. Having them performing at high levels eases the burden on the stars.
So when you peruse the numbers and see Rory Atkins clocking in with a season-high 35 touches, and Jake Kelly doing the same with 27 touches, you start to understand that in blowouts, it is often those who don’t usually have the licence to shine that get to do so.
Matt Crouch cannot help himself – the ball just finds him, but Wayne Milera had his time in the middle tonight, and it resulted in a season-high for him as well.
Not only did the Crows win by 15 goals – they got their role players playing well, too. That’ll be overlooked, but those guys, with confidence, are exactly what the Crows need to keep their place in the eight.
They have the Bombers next week in what is ostensibly an eight-point game. With Milera, Atkins, Kelly, Luke Brown and Riley Knight all performing similarly to tonight, they will be hard to contain.
BRUISE FREE LUKOSIUS
This is a real worry – Jack Lukosius is playing the kind of footy that screams to me that he is really trying to protect his body. He was the only player on the ground to have zero contested touches.
Everything he got was on the outside with three of his 13 disposals coming by way of out-on-the-full free kicks deep in defence. It was a weak performance.
Ben King was out there cracking in, but when there was a ball to be won, Lukosius ghosted the contest. He was recruited as a future key forward and avoided contact like he was playing against a team of lepers in this game.
I’m not sure he wants this reputation, but unless the Suns see him have a red-hot go next week, they would probably be better off opening discussions with the two Adelaide teams whilst the Crows at least, have a high pick to play with – the Carlton pick. Maybe they could use that pick to entice some other teams to deal and get some big bodies that aren’t going to gravitate to the outside at every chance?
TWO INTO ONE DOESN’T GO
So the Crows have a problem. I suppose in terms of problems, it’s a decent one to have.
They have Cam Ellis-Yolmen and Hugh Greenwood, both of whom can ably play the third midfield spot when Sloane or one of the Crouch boys need a breather, but can you play both in the same team?
And can you do it long-term?
My feeling is that one of the two will move on at the end of this season, but who goes where? I have a feeling the Crows will want to re-sign Ellis-Yolmen, which will make Greenwood a highly sought-after commodity this off-season. There has already been stories that Hawthorn are interested in greenwood (is there anyone the Hawks are not interested in, by the way?) but it would require a deal to be made, as Greenwood is not a free agent.
Crows fans, what would you be looking for if a deal for Greenwood could be struck? He is great overhead and would really do well somewhere like… say, Gold Coast. If he could be convinced to move there, he’d almost be guaranteed the spot of inside mid. If Greenwood entertains the idea, a pick swap may net the Crows a nice little draft position.
Carlton have started winning, and that potential number one pick looks like it will rest with Gold Coast. If the AFL is feeling charitable, they might even give them a priority pick (doubtful). That would make them more likely to part with one of their top picks.
If they gave up pick two for Lachie Weller, surely pick two for Greenwood and the Crows on pick would get this done?
Now all you have to do is convince Hugh.
JONATHON BROWN’S CRITICISMS
Was Browny harsh on the Suns’ senior players? He seemed as though he was almost angry at Anthony Miles and Pearce Hanley for the way they were wasting the footy.
But when you are getting little help, it can feel as though the walls are closing in on you, and mistakes happen. Was Brown too harsh, or was he spot on?
I was more annoyed with the efforts of Jesse Joyce, turning his back on Eddie Betts, of all players, to engage with the umpire, allowing Eddie to kick a goal behind his back.
But then again, there was so much to be disappointed about from the Gold Coast.
WHERE DOES REILLY O’BRIEN RATE?
On face value, O’Brien has exceeded all expectations this season. Sam Jacobs’ understudy finally got his chance on the main stage and suddenly, the crowd has been enamoured.
The form of ROB has aided in stamping Jacobs’ ticket for next year, but where do we rate O’Brien in the ruck pecking order?
You’ve got the Grundy/Gawn/Naitanui group – let’s call them the elite.
Then you have the Goldstein/McEvoy/Martin/Lycett cohort – let’s call them the very good.
And the you have this group of Rowan Marshall/Reilly O’Brien/Tim English who are the up and comers.
Yes, there are others – Cal Sinclair, Jarrod Witts, Big Mummy and Matthew Kreuzer, but given I am doing this off the top of my head, I’ll put them into whatever groups I like.
O’Brien could definitely slot into that second group by the end of the season, and a string finals campaign could see him entrenched in there pretty quickly. Is his ceiling in the elite bracket? He had nine clearances in this game to go with 36 hit outs, eclipsing the output of Witts after a shaky start, which is encouraging.
Does he get there to stand alongside Gawn, Nic Nat and Grundy? Can he turn in one of his best performances against one of those players to prove he belongs? It just so happens he gets to match up against Nic Nat in Round 21 and Grundy in Round 22. Let’s see how he travels in those contests and make up our minds then.
If you’re asking me right now if he can be an elite ruck in the comp, all I know is my gut says…maybe.
How very neutral of me.
SO WHERE DOES THE IMPROVEMENT COME FROM?
I’ll start with the Crows – you guys are probably more likely to still be reading.
I think this game would have been THE game to bring Bryce Gibbs back for instead of a couple of weeks ago – ease him into a winnable game with less pressure, but given the way he’s played when he has played seniors, maybe “improvement” isn’t the word we should use if he is included.
Cam Ellis-Yolmen offers a big, strong body at stoppages, but the Crows midfield are a little too one-paced with him, Greenwood, Crouch x 2 and Sloane in there. Decisions, decisions…
Chayce Jones is an interesting one – hasn’t played since Round 10, but the form of Lachie Murphy probably keeps him on the pine.
I’ve given up on seeing Darcy Fogarty this season, and that kind of makes me sad. Longer term readers would be well aware of my feelings for the Fog.
I reckon Seedsman was quiet in this one - has a couple of gears he can go up.
But the big one is Tom Lynch. He does things for the Crows nobody else does. His hard run and second and third leads work defenders over. Prior to this calf injury, he was averaging a career-high 21.7 touches per game. They are a much better team with him in there.
For the Suns…. Hmmm, they have to earn respect in the first quarters of games. That means immediately throwing someone behind the ball to ensure the quarter time score isn’t ridiculous. They simply don’t have the man-power to stem the tide when a good side starts rolling.
Rory Thompson would’ve been handy today, or at any time this season. His pre-season injury was a terrible blow for the team. I think I flagged him as the one player the suns could not afford to lose this year. Within a couple of weeks, he was gone. Sorry about that, Suns fans.
Jack Martin and Jack Bowes both add a lot to the Suns, and their absence was acutely felt today.
And then it’s whomever they bring in during the trade period. It’s time Gold Coast get aggressive and get busy with deals that actually work for them.
That’ll do me for tonight – sorry there are so many speculative points in this, but you all saw what happened tonight. It was a training drill after the first seven or eight minutes. The best result for the Crows was no injuries and a percentage boost, and that’s what they got.
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