Story Stuart Amos – Photos Eve Jeffery
Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast, hosted the NAB cup on Saturday night. With the Suns v Hawks then the Hawks v Lions, the final match saw fellow QLD rivals Lions and Suns playing a prelude to the much awaited Queensland Clash.
Almost 8,000 punters came out to see the games. Not much needs to be said about Suns’ captain Gary Ablett except that he looks primed for another season of absolutely elite football. Still quick, ultra fit, he looked a cut above every other player on the field every time he went near the ball, which was plenty – seven possessions in the first half, six in the second, each of them to his team’s advantage.
Some would have been asking, what has happened to Karmichael Hunt. He is all but unrecognisable from last year, let alone the heavy set league convert who struggled to run out half a game in 2010. Hunt has shed another nine kilos and was involved in the games throughout, though he still looked to give the ball away by hand rather than finding the foot option.
The Suns looked to draw the first game against the Hawks but on the siren kicked a much needed point to the cheer of the stadium to see them edge out the Hawks in game one: 0.4.6 (30) to 0.4.5 (29).
The Brisbane Lions gatecrashed the Gold Coast’s party in game three, backing up from a 21 point pounding of Hawthorn in the previous with a 2.6.3 (57) to 0.3.6 (24) win over the Suns and not a great deal more can be said except it was a scrappy performance by the Suns minus Ablett and it’s back to the drawing board.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson was unfazed by his team’s early exit from the NAB Cup after first up losses to both Gold Coast and Brisbane, despite concerns that Lance Franklin may be subject to scrutiny after making head high contact with the Suns’ Matt Shaw, and a possible knee injury to lively forward Paul Puopolo.