Round 2 – Fremantle v Gold Coast: A hazy future ahead

In just two weeks the entire fortune of two clubs have intermingled and swapped in an extremely unexpected fashion. In a 26 point victory, the young Gold Coast Suns team achieved what they never could up until that point; win a game against Fremantle. The fact that this history-making victory was at Fremantle’s supposed ‘fortress’ of Domain Stadium makes it all the more telling for both clubs.

On the same day that Gold Coast’s first round opponent in Essendon snuck past Melbourne, the quality of the Suns’ team took another spike upwards, as the fact that Essendon made them look better was soon to be rendered unnecessary by the stunning and groundbreaking victory that they conquered on a Saturday night in WA. From the first Gary Ablett goal just 30 seconds after the bounce, the feel and momentum of the match fell completely to the side of the underdog. Despite the round one thrashing inflicted upon the Dockers and the simultaneous thrashing delivered by the Suns, the high scoring affair was still a mind boggling one for many a football fan, as the minor Premiers of the year before had shown how far they had fallen off the pace. An even first quarter represented the intensity of the contest, as the Suns displayed the improvement that they so badly desired after a dire couple of years.

The quarter also proved to the footy world one harsh point; the Dockers still rely on Pavlich to be the solitary tall forward and kick goals. Other than that, the magic of Walters and the diminished forces of Ballantyne and Mayne are required to roam around the forward line and attempt to reach the elusive barrier of 100 points. They managed to this game, although not quite in the style that they would have expected.

Four consecutive goals to the Suns on either side of the first break was finally broken by Walters, as Fyfe was performing a Herculean effort with double the amount of contested possessions at the stage. Unfortunately, the power of Fyfe appears to have subsided this season, as his contemporaries are not supporting him in the way that they did the previous year. It’s a lot harder to win a Brownlow when you have sore shoulders each week.

After Matera’s crafty goal of the game that resulted after a fine piece of ball movement by an exuberant Suns outfit, Prestia and Lynch slotted goals that gave Gold Coast some breathing space. The 7 goal quarter was capped off by goals to Lynch and Cameron, as Ballantyne slotted one in between. At the break, the predicted Ablett and Fyfe show wasn’t the main talking point, as the might and contribution of the 22 Suns players had proven that something was going well up in the Gold Coast, and it wasn’t just the weather.

The likes of Tom Lynch had stepped up, as without the shadow of Dixon he now looks like a dominant forward that can own full-backs and be as athletic as the modern game demands him to be. With Prestia ably supporting Ablett in the midfield, the loss of Zac Smith doesn’t prove to be as harrowing as once thought, as the toughness of the Suns was one that their Giant contemporaries can’t replicate.

With Fyfe attempting to will his team back into the match with an early second half goal, the game was intense yet high scoring in an even mix of what footy should be. When Fyfe slotted another inspirational goal later in the quarter, the likes of Lynch and Matera ensured that their lead stay intact with majors. That’s what made their effort so impressive; the victory wasn’t all Ablett’s doing. In fact, he played a minor role in a wonderful team effort that is worrying for other teams to see.

After Fyfe’s third for the quarter, young gun Martin snagged two late ones to balance out the margin and prove that he was worth all of the hype, as his raw talent and goal sense is an innate ability that can’t be taught. In the last quarter, when the likes of Walters, Ballantyne and Pavlich attempted to snatch victory, the youthful brigade of Martin, Lynch and Davis all steadied the side in an Ablett-esque way to produce a confounding yet enthralling 26 point victory.

The final siren marked the sense of disbelief, as the game always had the feel to it that the Dockers would awaken and snatch the game back, like they rightly should. But, the fact that the Suns could utilise wonderful team football and exuberance to break down the Dockers’ once vaunted defence is a true testament to not just the burning empire of Fremantle, but the steady improve of the Suns.

For one team it’s onward and upwards. But for the other, it is only concerned press conferences and interior conflict.

Fremantle 4.4 6.7 11.10 14.16 (100)
Gold Coast 4.3 11.6 16.9 19.12 (126)

Fremantle: Ballantyne 4, Fyfe 3, Walters 3, Pavlich 2, Mundy, Mayne
Gold Coast: Lynch 5, Martin 4, Ah Chee 2, Matera 2, Davis 2, Ablett, Sexton, Prestia, Cameron

Fremantle: Fyfe, Neale, Ballantyne, Walters
Gold Coast: Hall, Lynch, Ablett, Prestia

Official crowd: 34,208 at Domain Stadium.

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