WHERE and WHEN: Metricon Stadium, Saturday 11 August, 4:40PM
The AFL’s two expansion clubs meet in a match that could decide the wooden spoon, and the post-season reward that comes with it.
The game between last and second last between the Gold Coast Suns and GWS takes on a fresh intrigue in the wake of Brock McLean’s recent tanking accusations against the Demons.
It is a game both teams would see as winnable, and also a yardstick of the development and future potential of some of the most exciting youngsters in the game on each team’s list. Yet you can’t help but think the shadow of ‘tanking’ may lurk over the contest.
The Giants have already beaten the Suns twice this year, once, in the NAB Cup and also for their historic first ever AFL season victory in Canberra in round seven.
GWS will be coming off an emphatic victory against Port Adelaide, a fitting win to mark the occasion of Kevin Sheedy’s 1000th game as coach, which broke a string of crushing three-figure defeats.
The Suns are facing a mounting injury list with more than fifteen players injured or facing tests to play. The latest additions to the list include Sam Iles, Karmichael Hunt, Michael Rischitelli, Luke Russell, Zac Smith and Dion Prestia. Emerging midfielder David Swallow also sustained a knee injury in his side’s 42 point loss to the Demons, and will only be played if he is 100% according to the Suns coaching staff. Forced inclusions for the Suns will most likely come in the form of Aaron Hall, Kyal Horsely and Steven May, who while unproven will be grasping the opportunity to play at the top level with both hands.
Garry Ablett is always a big consideration for the Suns but the former Geelong star appeared frustrated towards the end of last week’s match due to the close checking of the Dees James Magner. If Swallow doesn’t come up, it reduces the midfield negating required by the Giants, who boast a formidable attacking young centre crew of their own with Adam Treloar, Stephen Coniglio and Taylor Adams all finding the ball and form of late.
The loss of Zac Smith in the ruck for the Suns may be the biggest gap to fill as the ‘Big red bear’ Jonathan Giles has been dominating for GWS in recent weeks both in the taps and around the ground, and the size and skill of Dean Brogan can come to the fore against a second-string opponent and give his pacy midfielders first use.
The battle of the emerging forwards with Harvel Bennell scoring four and a best on ground for Gold Coast, with the support of the enigmatic Jared Brennan up against the up and coming duo of Cameron Elliott and Jonathon Patton, and the support of Rising Star listed Devon Smith for GWS should prove an intriguing battle.
GWS inflicted a victory that cost a club a coach and played promisingly in patches against the Pies. Their seven Rising Star nominations is testament to their young players finding their feet at AFL level. Gold Coast have a ball-magnet in Ablett and excitement aplenty in Bennell though their injury list is becoming a big issue.
Prediction: GWS by 19.