AN early four-goal blitz by the Gold Coast’s fresh faces has helped them to a five-point win over a wasteful Western Bulldogs in their AFL preseason match in Mackay.
The Bulldogs dominated possession and found their way back into the game but the Suns held on in a tight and scrappy match for a 11.11 (77) to 10.12 (72) win at the Great Barrier Reef Arena on Sunday.
A three-goal haul to surprise forward target Mitch Wallis was a highlight for the Bulldogs, as was the domination of possessions from usual suspects Jack Macrae (40), Caleb Daniel (32) and Lachie Hunter (32).
The Suns had even contributions across the midfield but a third-term blitz by Brayden Fiorini, who finished with 26 possessions, stood out.
Gold Coast made the most of their opportunities in the first quarter.
Draftee Izak Rankine made an immediate impact, with last year’s No. 3 pick curling an excellent goal from the forward pocket boundary line for the game’s first.
Two goals to mature-age SANFL recruit Chris Burgess and one to Darcy MacPherson continued the run before late goals to the Bulldogs’ Matt Suckling and Billy Gowers cut the Suns’ lead to 11 points at quarter time.
The Bulldogs were again wasteful in an untidy second quarter, missing several set shots before goals to Tom Liberatore and Mitch Wallis rewarded the side’s improved intensity.
Despite 35 more disposals and 41 more uncontested possessions, the Bulldogs went to the long break five points down after Wil Powell nabbed the Suns’ sole goal of the quarter with less than five minutes on the clock.
Fiorini had an excellent quarter with 12 disposals (nine uncontested possessions), two inside 50s and two score assists.
Goals were traded in the third quarter before Alex Sexton’s second helped extend the Suns’ lead to 10 points at the final break.
The final quarter was similarly tight.
The Bulldogs first round draft pick from 2018, Bailey Smith, goaled with his first effective kick of the night to give the Bulldogs a one point lead with five minutes to go.
But a quick reply by Powell was enough for the Suns to regain the lead and get the win.
© AAP 2019
GOLD COAST 4.2 5.6 8.8 11.11 (77)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.3 4.7 6.10 10.12 (72)
Goals: Gold Coast: A Sexton 2 C Burgess 2 D MacPherson 2 W Powell 2 I Rankine J Bowes P Wright. Western Bulldogs: M Wallis 3 B Gowers B Smith E Richards L Hunter M Suckling T Liberatore T McLean.
Umpires: Shaun Ryan, Nick Brown, Hayden Gavine.
Venue: Harrup Park.