Three teams in the AFL suffered losses after leading by 5 goals on the weekend and the Gold Coast were on the right side of that statistic, as they registered a 15-point win over North Melbourne on Saturday night at Metricon Stadium.
In torrid, wet conditions in front of 11,000 of the most loyal of supporters, the Gold Coast Suns came back from a goalless first quarter to register their fifth win of season 2013; and perhaps the finest of their short history.
Full of guts and determination, the Suns were thoroughly outplayed, failing to register a major in the opening quarter, while the Kangaroos helped themselves to the first five goals of the match.
It took a Jarrod Harbrow snap to spark the Suns into life in the saturating conditions, as the Suns piled on a five-goal-to-nothing second term to remarkably lead the match by four points at the major break.
One of those five goals belonged to captain Gary Ablett who was yet again a class above the rest amidst the challenging climatic elements. His ability to trap the ball, pick it up cleanly in congestion and snap the Suns’ second of the match was testament as to why he is a clear favourite for the Brownlow medal after just 11 rounds.?Ablett, Luke Russell and Tom Lynch all booted two goals each for the home team, while Trent McKenzie was among the best on ground with a nine-mark, 25-disposal display as the SUNS kicked seven unanswered majors either side of half-time to gain the edge.
The win ensures Gold Coast (5 wins, 6 losses) leapfrog North (4 wins, 7 losses) on the ladder.
North will be gutted to have again squandered a big lead, losing despite kicking four goals to none in the opening quarter to lead by 25 points at the first change.
After the match, Kangaroos’ coach Brad Scott denied his team had a mental block despite holding a quarter-time lead in 10 of its 11 fixtures but only converting that into victory four times. ‘There’s no capitulation, just an inability to do the fundamentals well’, said Scott. ‘Others can talk about it if they want but that’s not an issue as far as I’m concerned.’
Gold Coast Coach Guy McKenna’s pre-match labelling of North Melbourne as ‘vulnerable’ even in winning positions proved right. He was far from impressed by how his side started. ‘Clearly that wasn’t the way we wanted to start’, said McKenna. ‘The other clubs have had to put that pressure on North to get that result and that was clearly what we had to do after quarter-time.Certainly a couple of our dopey mistakes in the back half of the ground really opened us up but I thought after quarter-time the boys showed a lot of poise, resilience and, again, our ability to run out the game I thought was super.’
The only downer of the night was the sight of Charlie Dixon hobbling off the ground with a recurrence of an ankle injury in the fourth quarter, but he was walking around on it post-match.
McKenna said he had his fingers crossed Dixon would be available to play Essendon next Saturday night at Etihad Stadium.
GOLD COAST SUNS 0.1 5.6 7.7 9.12 (66)
NORTH MELBOURNE 4.2 5.2 6.2 8.3 (51)
GOALS: Ablett 2, Lynch 2, Russell, Hall, Shaw, Harbrow
BEST: Ablett, McKenzie, Lynch, Prestia, O’Meara, Harbrow, Murphy