The Gold Coast Suns travelled down to the Sydney Cricket Ground to meet the 2012 premiers, and despite a brave effort in torrid conditions, fell to the Swans by 41 points on Saturday afternoon.
The Suns competed well from the opening siren, even winning the first quarter as well as the clearance count for the match. Only two sides – Geelong and Collingwood – were able to achieve that feat last year.
Gary Ablett Jnr had his effectiveness curbed by Swans taggers Kieran Jack and Nick Smith, finishing with 24 disposals. Yet it was second-gamer, the highly touted Jaeger O’Meara, who pricked the ears up of the rest of competition with 25 disposals (the best for Gold Coast) and seven tackles.
O’Meara’s clean skills and aggression in contested situations – not just competing, but winning clearances – provided evidence as to why the young Western Australian is so highly thought of.
Rugby league convert Karmichael Hunt, now plying his trade as a tagger, was superb on Swans best and fairest Josh Kennedy, keeping him to 20 disposals for the match.
Defensively, Dion Prestia, Michael Rischitelli and Jarrod Harbrow were impressive playing mop up roles across half back, repelling many a Swans’ foray forward and accumulating impressive possession numbers. However, it was the performance of Charlie Dixon with three goals and 18 disposals that will hearten Suns’ supporters.
The 200cm key forward from Cairns played a significant role for his side in conditions that were unfavourable to big men. It’s been a great start to 2013 for Dixon, after spending much of the previous two years battling injury, form and personal issues.
Despite the impressive displays by a number of Gold Coast players, the Swans were a class above, the bigger bodies in rainy conditions at times overwhelming the young Suns.
The Swans’ class finishing in front of goal was crucial as they kept the Suns at bay from the halfway point of the second quarter onwards.
The Swans extended midfield, led by captain Jarrad McVeigh, were sensational for the current premiers, who also took the opportunity to unveil the 2012 Premiership flag in front of their home fans.
They stay at the top end of the table as one of five unbeaten sides (not including games played on Sunday) after Round 2 and travel to Hobart’s Blundstone Arena to take on North Melbourne next Saturday.
For the Suns, coach Guy McKenna was pleased with how his chargers went about their football, highlighting the work out of the centre as ‘a step in the right direction’.
The Suns return to the fortress for the fifth edition of the Q-Clash, hosting Queensland rivals, the Brisbane Lions, at Metricon Stadium next Saturday night.
Final score: Sydney Swans 17. 12. 114 def. Gold Coast Suns 11. 7. 73.