Suns clobber Kangaroos to ninth straight AFL loss

Joanna Guelas |

Gold Coast celebrate yet another goal during their 68-point thrashing of North Melbourne in Darwin.
Gold Coast celebrate yet another goal during their 68-point thrashing of North Melbourne in Darwin.

Gold Coast have monstered North Melbourne by 68-points to deny the competition strugglers their first win of the AFL season.

Determined to bounce back from their humiliating 34-point loss to local rivals the Brisbane Lions last time out, the Suns sizzled to a dominant 17.18 (120) to 7.10 (52) victory at Darwin’s TIO Stadium on Saturday.

The Kangaroos are now on a nine-game losing streak.

“North controlled the ball really well. You can see what they’re trying to do and what they’re trying to be,” Suns coach Damien Hardwick said.

“They’ve got a young, emerging midfield that is quite dynamic and challenges the opposition. We had to nullify that.”

The Suns came away with the win with grit rather than style as both sides struggled to score early in warm and slippery conditions.

Gold Coast were able to claim a one-goal lead at quarter-time partially thanks to the visitors’ inaccuracy, Hardwick’s men going in 2.4 (16) to 1.4 (10) ahead at the first break.

Paul Curtis could have levelled the scores but the Kangaroos forward, running freely towards an open goal square, did not hear the siren as he released between the big sticks.

Gold Coast broke away to a 25-point lead, courtesy of goals to Jarrod Witts, Sam Clohesy and Noah Anderson, before the main break.

North Melbourne seemed to run out of legs in the second half, capitulating after the Suns piled on five unanswered goals across the last two quarters.

Their woes were amply illustrated when Ben Ainsworth flaunted his pace to outrun a jogging ‘Roos pack and took two bounces before launching towards home from just outside the 50-metre arc.

“Unfortunately, the last quarter, we were dead on our feet,” North coach Alistair Clarkson.

“You’re trying to chase down a lead in hot conditions. It’s pretty sapping conditions to play footy and if you’re behind on the scoreboard, it makes that extra yard harder to catch up.”

Gold Coast kicked six goals to three in the final quarter to seal the deal.

Hardwick was not afraid to swing the axe ahead of the clash, opting for a six-player change after Wil Powell was slapped with a five-match ban for directing a homophobic slur at a Brisbane player.

Darwin product Lloyd Johnston (one goal), Alex Davies (10 tackles, 13 contested possessions) and Bodhi Uwland (20 disposals) stood out among the inclusions.

Gold Coast were also well served by reliable onballers Touk Miller and Matt Rowell, while Jed Walter shone with his pressure work.

North Melbourne had an even spread of contributors, with Zac Fisher (34 disposals), Colby McKercher (30) and Luke Davies-Uniacke (35 disposals, nine clearances) all impressive, but they could not get their side even close to the line.