It had to be the biggest AFL boil-over in the 2000’s. The Sydney Swans were comprehensively beaten by the lowly Gold Coast Suns on Saturday by 24 points. It was the club’s first win over the Sydney team in their short, eight year history. In a game where the Swans were expected to win easily and boost their percentage, the exact opposite occurred. Star forward Lance Franklin failed to kick a goal and his team failed to kick a goal in two quarters of football. It was a stunning defeat and the ramifications may seriously haunt Sydney’s premiership aspirations. Ironically cross town rivals the Greater Western Sydney Giants indirectly did the Swans a favour by defeating 4th place contender Port Adelaide on Sunday. Remarkably, the Swans hold onto the all important double chance 4th spot. The shock loss was Sydney’s fifth home defeat this season.
Before the game the Gold Coast Suns were 2nd last on the AFL table and were the lowest scoring side in the competition. Earlier this season they even struggled to post a goal in a final quarter, hardly reassuring form. The first quarter was business as usual as Sydney bolted out to a 29 point lead, kicking 6 goals to one and it looked like it would be an easy win. The Gold Coast came from the break and slammed on 6 goals to Sydney’s 3 behinds. It was a stunning reversal of form. The Suns lifted their workrate where it mattered laying on 23 tackles for the term and were fierce in the contest. Alex Sexton booted two goals for the term and picked up 10 disposals. Will Brodie played a magnificent game in the midfield and was the Sun’s best disposal gatherer picking up 28 touches and laying 6 important tackles. He was ably assisted by Touk Miller. Miller was tough in the contest and wasn’t afraid to do the hard work. He was constantly in and under the packs scavenging for the ball, getting the ball out to a teammate or harassing a Swans opponent.
Remarkably, Sydney failed to kick a goal for the second or third quarter. The Swans were frustrated by a Suns team who refused to let their key players get any sort of foothold. Lance Franklin was well beaten by Rory Thompson.
Thompson’s effort was incredible, considering his sub-par form during season 2018. In a home game against St-Kilda several weeks ago, Thompson inexplicably pushed his opponent in the back after a mark to give not only a 50 metre penalty goal, but helped the game go to the Saints as it was decided by a kick. To Thompson’s credit he has worked hard on his form over recent works and it culminated in keeping Franklin goalless, something he surely will find great pride in when his career is over.
The 32,000 plus crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground were silenced as the Gold Coast Suns headed to an unlikely victory. Sydney did mount a mini challenge in the final term, when they were finally able to kick a goal. Tom Papley and Luke Parker goaled and it looked like the Swans were back in business. The Gold Coast were having none of that, with Aaron Young, Lachie Weller and Nick Holman posting replies. The impossible had happened, the Gold Coast Suns were heading to victory.
At the Gold Coast race, The Suns NEAFL squad gathered,waiting for their senior mates, all with huge grins on their faces. Former Brisbane Lions triple premiership player, Norm Smith medalist and now Gold Coast coaching assistant, Shaun Hart told us “This is big” he wasn’t kidding as he to, had a wide grin. Gold Coast CEO Mark Evans was donned in a Suns scarf as he headed onto the boundary line to applaud his team’s improbable win. On the opposite side, The Swans were in a daze, genuinely shocked at what had just occurred and slowly trudged off the ground. For the victors, they headed to the sheds under the Noble Stand and belted out the Gold Coast song with manic passion.
Post-game Suns coach Stuart Dew, said that whilst the win was brilliant it wasn’t all about the 2 hours that had just transpired. Dew was of the opinion that over past few weeks the Gold Coast Suns had been building and the win was the outcome of that work. Sydney coach John Longmire looked genuinely shocked and glum. He stated along the lines that the game reminds you that you cant take anything for granted and the game can punch you on the nose and remind you nothing’s guaranteed.
Luckily, Sydney (11 wins, 6 losses) held onto 4th spot thanks to the Giants (6th, 10 wins, 6 losses,1 draw) win over Port Adelaide (5th, 11 wins, 6 losses) The journey doesn’t get an easier for the Swans as they face a red hot Essendon (11th, 9 wins, 8 losses) next Friday night in Melbourne. The Bombers are making a late surge towards the finals and will be seeking payback from the hiding the Swans dished out to them in last years finals game at the SCG. The Gold Coast Suns (17th, 4 wins, 13 losses) could possibly post consecutive wins when they return home next Saturday night to play a woeful Carlton (Last, 1 win, 16 losses)
SYDNEY 6.4 6.7 6.10 8.16 (64)
GOLD COAST 1.5 7.7 9.12 12.16 (88)
Sydney: Papley 3, Parker 2, Jones, Florent, Hayward
Gold Coast: Young 4, Sexton 3, Weller 2, Miller, Heron, Holman
Sydney: Kennedy, Parker, Aliir, Papley
Gold Coast: Brodie, Miller, May, Thompson
Gold Coast: –
Umpires: Leigh Fisher, Simon Meredith, Jacob Mollison
Official attendance: 32,565 at the Sydney Cricket Ground Paddington, Sydney Australia