Round 16 – Gold Coast v Greater Western Sydney: Youth in abundance, talent in spades

The complete array of players, both talented and hardworking, is as wonderful a spread as an all-you-can-eat buffet at a fancy Italian restaurant.

It may take a touch of perspective, and maybe even a quick zoom out from your AFL viewing lenses, but the amazing contrasts between many teams, and players for that matter, is completely unique to any other sport.

You go from players like Dustin Fletcher and ‘Boomer’ Harvey, who are both joining the 400 game club this year, to the exuberant youth taking off on soul searching journeys that could either reap a varieties of rewards or break oneself enough time to turn on the game forever.

But, with the spectacular display of Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast for the majority of last year, the magnificent talent and dare that the youth of today’s AFL possess is a scary thought to many other teams, as Saturday afternoon game’s proved.

The only experienced player who really stamped his authority on the game was Ablett, who seemed shocked to find the younger opponents not chasing after him like the ones at a clinic do, as the GWS midfielders ran hard and took risky options that seemed to work out in what was a thrilling close game.

Beautiful sunshine filled the red stadium, with the Gold Coast sunshine showing its magnificence as the stars of tomorrow, and today, ran amuck and showed everyone at the small arena why they are going to be the scariest up and coming players yet.

The fast paced game kicked off in a fitting manner, with Downie slotting through the Giants’ first goal in just over 30 seconds, as the quick and explosive game plan that Leon Cameron has installed in his team proving to be deadly at times in this breathtaking match.

With oxygen being firmly disposed of into the atmosphere after a rib crushing start, the hand of God (no, not Maradona) in Ablett showed that he was still a force to be reckoned with, as he settled his youthful team with a crucial goal.

The early ascendancy to the Suns was then complete by a crafty Matera goal. That is, until the out of this world young Giants stepped up to the plate, with the precision of Cameron and Smith being amazing in what were both fantastic games for the highly rated Giants.

From then on the Giants looked intent to blast away from the contest, with the likes of Lobb, McCarthy and Ward all capitalising from the hard running and dashing play that the midfield created. With the likes of Smith running amuck in the midfield, only Ablett could take control of the game for his Suns, with Zac Smith and Touk Miller kicking crucial goals before the first break.

In what was a breakthrough game for Miller (he later received a Rising Star nomination for his magnificent display), his late goal, along with two late GWS points, gave Gold Coast a fighting chance in what was an extremely high scoring and breakneck first quarter.
With Cameron proving to be slightly wayward in the early exchanges of the second quarter, the likes of Matera and Miller used guile to make him pay, as the contest was brought back to an all but level playing field. With the game in contention, Ablett broke through in the warm sun to inspire his team, as his goal gave the Suns momentum and motivation all at once.

But in what was a tough and contested time of the otherwise free flowing match, the many points racked up by both teams threatened to impact the quality of the contest, only for Palmer to snatch a goal for his Giants, ending the surging Suns run that began late in the first quarter.

That proved to be the last goal of the half, with the Giants going in with a five point lead after a much tighter second quarter.

The game opened back up again in the second half, with four straight behinds to GWS being broken by a strong and helpful Lobb goal. With over 13 minutes expired in the quarter, it only took another four for the Suns to crash back in, with a quick double from Sexton bringing the game right back into an arm wrestle.

With the Premiership quarter over, the Giants found themselves in front by 11 points in what was in inaccurate yet grinding display by them. Yet, the vast smattering of GWS away supporters seemed to frown, with wrinkles opening in the glorious sunlight as Ablett brought the margin back to a kick after a huge captain’s goal in the first twenty seconds of the final stanza.

From then on, the scorching Gold Coast sun forced fatigue and tiredness onto many young bodies and minds, with the experienced Hallahan booting through a goal to somehow bring the momentum and the lead to his plucky Suns teammates.

With Eade sensing a victory in the coaches box, Devon Smith produced the start of his miracle last quarter effort, as the young dasher put his team straight back in front with a lifting goal.

But the goal couldn’t dampen any spirits for the home team, with Sexton booting a third major to bring the crowd to its feet. Remarkably, Smith replied yet again within quick time to amaze many viewers of the match, as Ward and Smith again added fast majors in to extend a lead that they would hold to the final siren.

Even a late Lynch goal was replied to by Cameron, with the forward finishing off a relatively quiet day by tying the ribbon around the present for the Giants. But, such was the condition of the Giants’ play after quarter time; the gift was shabby yet still did the job, much like GWS today in what was an exciting contest by two gifted and youthful teams.

Lesson learnt; there is plenty to look forward to from both young franchise teams. Beware.

Gold Coast: 4.1 7.4 8.4 12.7 (79)
GWS: 6.4 7.9 8.15 13.16 (94)

GOALS: Gold Coast: Ablett 3, Miller 2, Sexton 2, Matera 2, Hallahan, Lynch, Smith
GWS: Smith 4, Lobb 2, Cameron 2, Ward 2, McCarthy, Downie, Palmer.

3 Votes:
1. Ward (GWS)
2. Miller (Gold Coast)
3. Smith (GWS)

Official attendance: 9,589 at Metricon Stadium.


  1. kath presdee says

    I think it is interesting now that GWS are starting to win without Mumford (largely because they appear to have worked out what’s needed in the ruck) where the Suns are a very different team without Ablett. While I know the little master was not in your points, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did get the three votes from the Umps in this game (late frees given away notwithstanding) because he was in everything.

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