The Way-Too-Early 2013 Preview: Gold Coast

GOLD COAST

2012 was the second year at AFL level for the Suns, and it really was a case of baby steps. They won three games, the same amount as their debut season, preying on the inexperienced (GWS), the dysfunctional (Carlton) and those afflicted with Richmondness (Richmond).

Little changed on field. Ablett continued to be Ablett. Bennell elevated his game and put himself in the best young player conversation. Karmichael Hunt went from gimmick to reasonable contributor in the middle. He also kicked a winning goal after the siren that caused 84 percent of the population’s heads to explode. Unfortunately, injury hindered the development of players like Swallow, Prestia, Tape and Matera, preventing the year from being as beneficial as possible.

2012 Key Statistics

Gold Coast 2012 Offensive

Average per Game

Competition Rank

Disposals

341.1

16th

Contested Possessions

132

18th

Clearances

34.1

17th

Inside 50s

43.3

17th

Marks Inside 50

9.7

14th

Hitouts

30

18th

Goals

9.8

17th

 

Gold Coast 2012 Defensive

Average per Game

Competition Rank

Points Against

112.77

17th

Inside 50s Conceded

58.1

17th

Marks Inside 50 Conceded

14.1

17th

Tackles

54

18th

 

Gold Coast 2012 Offensive/Defensive Differentials

Total

Competition Rank

Inside 50s Opponent Differential(Total Inside 50s minus Total Inside 50s conceded)

-348

17th

Marks Inside 50 Opponent Differential(Total Marks Inside 50 minus Total Marks Inside 50 conceded)

-98

16th

 

What are they great at?

Not much yet.

What are they good at?

They weren’t good, but marks inside 50 is one of the few categories the Suns didn’t find themselves in the bottom three of come seasons end. Campbell Brown led the side in the category.

Campbell Brown….

What do they need to improve?

Everything. They’ve only been around for a few years and the squad is ridiculously young so it will come in time.

What are they bad at?

Pointing out the Suns are bad at things would be like pointing out that the story a child has written doesn’t make sense. It’s bad, but it’s to be expected. Just pat them on the head and stick it on the fridge, we’re all about encouragement here.

Points of Interest in 2013

Gary Ablett Jnr

The good news for the Suns is they have Gary Ablett Jnr. The bad news for the Suns is human cloning is not yet legal.

One Man Band: Contribution to 2012 Team Totals

Ablett

Watson Boyd

Swan

Games

20 22 22

21

Disposals

8.99% 8.21% 8.86%

7.85%

Contested Possessions

10.20% 10.00% 9.84%

7.73%

Clearances

17.57% 19.29% 16.21%

14.50%

Inside 50s

10.84% 7.67% 9.22%

7.26%

Goal Assists

11.73% 11.38% 3.49%

7.65%

Goals

12.09% 6.68% 2.75%

7.35%

Ablett did more for his side in more areas of the game than any other single player did for theirs in 2012, despite missing two matches. Nearly 11 percent of the Suns’ forward entries came off his boot, and he himself scored or directly assisted on nearly 24 percent of their goals.


Harley Bennell

You can make a strong argument that Bennell is the Suns’ second best player already.

Bennell 2012 Team Ranks

Disposals

Contested Possessions Clearances

Goals

4th

3rd 2nd

2nd

Bennell’s performances in Ablett’s absences are particularly pleasing. With Ablett out, the Suns gave Fremantle an almighty scare in round six, losing by only seven points. Bennell was the driving force behind the Suns that evening. He had 37 disposals and 3 goals in the agonising defeat. The midfielder is one of the best young players in the league, and is well on his way to being one of the best players full stop.

Bennell’s Early Improvement: Per Game Averages

Disposals

Contested Possessions Clearances

Goals

2011

17.57 6.57 1.29

14

2012

23.68 8.64 3.23

25

 

Greg Broughton

Broughton is a phenomenal ball winner when playing through the middle and across the halfback line, and, as anyone who has ever had Broughton in their fantasy side can attest, he can also be employed in extremely defensive lockdown roles. Broughton has a strong work rate, as evidenced by his tackle rate, but he is also prone to missing extended periods of the season through injury.

The Suns were the worst tackling team in the competition last season, so Broughton is a welcome addition in this regard. If he is partnered with Harbrow on the halfback flank, then the Suns will have two players with attacking mindsets bringing the ball out of the backhalf.

Jaeger O’Meara

This young West Australian was the grand prize on offer during the first year of the Greater Western Sydney Mini-Draft. The Suns sent the fourth pick in the 2011 draft, and an end of first round compensation pick, to the Giants for O’Meara, and you won’t find anyone who thinks they overpaid.  O’Meara is about as good as footballing prospect you are ever likely to come across. He has lightening pace as well as elite endurance. He works hard, lays plenty of tackles, and is good overhead. Most comparisons to AFL players go something like ‘Gary Ablett Jnr’ or ‘Chris Judd’. He hasn’t even played a game yet, and Ablett has already anointed him as a future captain option at the Suns. He is going to slot straight into the side come round one, and in a couple of years we are going to weep seeing Ablett Jnr, Bennell, Swallow and O’Meara in the centre square together (and Jack Martin, another touted 17 year old the Suns snared through the second iteration of the mini-draft).

Add a couple more years though and clubs will be gleefully rubbing their hands together at the prospect of stealing a few of these players. Both the Suns and Giants have so many talented youngsters that it’s almost impossible to see them keeping them all while paying them market value. There are going to have to be pay-cuts or departures in the future, and most folks don’t like pay-cuts. It’s going to be interesting to see how things develop on this front over the next five years.

Tom Murphy

The defensive half of the ground is a real issue for the Suns at the moment, one made even worse with Bock’s extended absences. The Suns brought in Matthew Warnock last year to add another mature body in the back half, and did the same this off-season by acquiring ex-hawk Thomas Murphy via free agency.

Murphy is a unspectacular but capable defender, and should relieve some of the pressure placed on the shoulders of young defenders like Sebastian Tape and Henry Schade. Hawthorn routinely talked up Murphy’s leadership qualities during his stay, so he should help in that sense as well.

2013 Outlook

The Suns aren’t going to explode and make the finals in 2013. I doubt they even come close. They won three games in 2012, and I think a total of five or six would be the benchmark in 2013.

The defensive side of the ground is starting to feature more and more experience. Bock, Warnock, Brown, Murphy, Harbrow and Broughton are all players who usually played down back at their former clubs. If the Suns’ comparatively young midfield can improve their defensive efforts and reduce how frequently their opposition sends it forward, then we may begin to see their points conceded average drop from the “we are clearly an expansion team” territory it is  in right now.

What’s more important than wins is continued improvement from their young stars. In the middle I’d be looking for a few of them to take Bennell-esque leaps and ease the reliance on Ablett. Up forward is where we need to start seeing dramatic improvement before we start talking about finals over the next couple of years. Their two main key forward prospects, Thomas Lynch and Sam Day, kicked only 12 and 10 goals respectively in 2012, finishing 5th and 7th in the Suns goal kicking tally. The Suns won’t be competing for finals spots until they get some forwards hitting the scoreboard with regularity. Don’t be surprised to see Bock spend time up forward to give them a more stable focal point up front as they wait for Lynch and Day to mature.

About Adam Ritchie

My name is Adam. I started watching football with two fellow parapsychologists in an abandoned firehouse. When we’re not watching footy, we’re running our own pest control business. What do you mean I stole that from Ghostbusters?

Comments

  1. Excellent as always Adam. Good mix of humour, insights and stats. Keep them coming

  2. Peter Schumacher says:

    Amazing that Day only kicked ten goals, he looked to me that he could be anything in the one match that I attended last year (Suns against Port at the Gold Coast).

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