Suns aim to end AFL road drought at Gabbatoir

Roger Vaughan |

Gold Coast’s Jarrod Witts shows his delight after scoring a goal  against the Eagles.
Gold Coast’s Jarrod Witts shows his delight after scoring a goal against the Eagles.

Having added a few bricks to their Carrara fortress, Gold Coast now head up the highway to break their AFL road drought at “the Gabbatoir”.

Sunday’s 17.10 (112) to 12.3 (75) win over West Coast gives Gold Coast a 4-3 record, with all their wins at home.

While next Sunday’s Q Clash is the shortest-possible trip for Gold Coast, coach Damien Hardwick rates it one of their toughest.

“We give ourselves a shot if we play our best footy, but we’re going up against a pretty good side – it’s a fortress up in the Gabbatoir there,” Hardwick said after Sunday’s win.

“You have the colosseum-type atmosphere, where there’s 30,000 fans baying for blood.

“Our guys will get a good understanding of that next week and hopefully we can rise to the occasion. I’m sure they will.

“If we allow Brisbane to play the way they do up there, we’re going to be in trouble. But from our perspective, a win away is going to be a great challenge for us and one we’re looking forward to.”

Players from both teams leap high for the ball.
Gold Coast rose to the occasion to stop the Eagles’ winning run at two games. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

The Lions are coming off two ugly defeats, but the Suns have lost their past eight games at the Gabba.

“They’re better than what they are,” Hardwick said of Brisbane’s 2-5 start.

With co-captain Jarrod Witts supreme in the ruck, Gold Coast broke clear with six goals to one in the third term after an even opening half.

The Eagles fought back to trail by only three goals with five minutes left in the last quarter, but the Suns kicked the last three goals of the game.

“There was a period of play in the second quarter when there should have been Benny Hill music playing,” Hardwick said. “Those are the sort of plays we have to eradicate.

“What I was really happy with is we responded after half time.”

Hardwick spoke of his “sh*t-goal stat” that was raised at halftime, lamenting the Suns had given away three of them.

“We’ll get better,” he added. “The education aspect, I love this group because they’re just so coachable. They’re just going to get better and better.”

Witts’ domination set up Suns midfielders Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell and Touk Miller, with Rowell’s duel against Eagles star Elliott Yeo a highlight of the game.

Elliot Yeo (left) and Gold Coast's Matt Rowell
Elliot Yeo was a force for West Coast in an engrossing duel with Matt Rowell (R). (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

West Coast key forward Jake Waterman continued shining as a 2024 revelation, kicking four goals, while defender Jeremy McGovern again was rock-solid.

But coach Adam Simpson noted too much was left to too few players.

“Just that 15-20 minutes of resilience was all I needed to see to suggest they have some spirit there,” he said.

“But we have a heap of work; around the contest was not up to scratch.”

Simpson added there was no doubt that rested young gun Harley Reid had needed the week off after the stunning start to his AFL career.

In his second game, Suns youngster Jake Rogers stood out with 22 possessions, a goal and four score assists.

AAP