Round 18 – Sydney v Gold Coast: Dawn over a former fortress

Sydney v Gold Coast

2:10PM, Saturday July 22





“We are the Suns of the Gold Coast sky…the team who never say die!”



Accompanied by an upbeat brass section and various shades of muzak, the song of the victors burst out of the SCG’s speakers, filling the silence that had descended on the Sydneysiders so used to shaking down thunder on that same Gold Coast sky.



It was a fitting end to the upset of the year.





I must admit that this game had filled me with a sense of foreboding like few others had in 2018. The Suns had never beaten the Swans, never won a game in NSW and were sitting on an 11-game losing streak while their (supposedly want-away) skipper, Tom Lynch headed a list of eight starting 22 players out with injury.



The Swans start was dominant while the rank underdog Suns spluttered, probably best summed up by a swooping Ollie Florent crumb and goal following a misshaped foray into forward 50 from Josh Kennedy that seemed to repel Gold Coast defenders after it was brought to ground. The Suns were equally haphazard at the other end, best summed up by a glance at the scoreboard: 1.5 to end the quarter 29 points in arrears.



And then something extraordinary happened.



The promise of a young club saddled with false starts and beset by saboteurs aplenty emerged. Like Rumpelstiltskin, the making of a team started with unheralded names like Nick Holman and Aaron Young and spun itself into pure gold.



Waves of pressure (the hallmark of a good side in the current game) and an obvious intent to attack the goals paid dividends. Lachie Weller, the former Docker now returned Sun showed just why he was worth Pick 2 in trade. In a year where rucks have become prime movers through the likes of Gawn, Grundy and Martin, Jarrod Witts’ ability to put tackles on opponents shone as he toyed with Callum Sinclair at stoppages for large swathes of the contest.



Steven May, the captain Gold Coast doesn’t deserve, but needs now, began to pluck marks like down from a goose (or swan?) in a performance that looked inspirational from afar & was confirmed as such when May spoke post-match of his desire to impart confidence in his young disciples in defense.



One player who must have taken heed was zippy Callum Ah Chee – the David to Buddy’s Goliath (looking more like the Colossus of Bondi next to the diminutive Ah Chee), he stared down the 900-goal superstar, ran, hassled, bodied and ultimately won an electric one-on-one contest. In a dirty day for Franklin where he was thouroughly bested by an original Sun in Rory Thompson, the Ah Chee moment was rubbing salt in his wounds.



At this point, it became obvious that the Swans couldn’t score. Thanks to pressure from the Suns wings and everyone behind them, they weren’t allowed to.



It was something from the Twilight Zone – if the second quarter’s absence of goals hadn’t been confirmed by the same in the third I don’t know if I would have believed what I saw. I’m still not 100% sure how it could have happened.



However the best would be saved for last. With the memory of a final quarter collapse against St Kilda still fresh, Sean Lemmens had the chance to ice the game with an early push into the forward line and a certain goal.



He missed.



The Swans pushed back on a counter attack that resulted in a Tom Papley goal. Then Luke Parker kicked another. Buddy looked more dangerous than at any other point in the game, but could only add two behinds.



That behind from Lemmens looked like a pre-emptive finger in the dyke.



In a year where brickbats have been flying thick and fast, an overwhelming criticism has been Gold Coast’s inability to score in last quarters. Surely the mighty Bloods, better than any at imposing their will on a close game, would get over the line.



But they didn’t.



In a real fillip for Stewie Dew’s efforts to make amends for team fadeouts, the Suns first steadied the ship and then began to turn the screws once more; the brilliant Weller bobbed up for a second long-range goal and Young kicked his fourth in an impressive end to a great game.



As the siren sounded, the only colour and movement came from the joyous Suns, as Swans fans stood dumbstruck and faded into the scenery.




SYDNEY           6.4       6.7       6.10     8.16 (64)
GOLD COAST   1.5       7.7       9.12     12.16 (88)


Sydney: Papley 3, Parker 2, Jones, Florent, Hayward
Gold Coast: Young 4, Sexton 3, Weller 2, Miller, Heron, Holman


Sydney: Kennedy, Parker, Aliir, Florent, Rampe, Cunningham
Gold Coast: Young, Weller, Thompson, Sexton, Witts, Miller





A classic jack of all trades & master of a couple, Jarrod started his footy career as a gangly ruck after a growth spurt catapulted him to the lofty heights of 177cm as a 12-year-old. Forward pocket off the bench was where he ended up as he topped out at 178cm eight years later. The trajectory of a career in health fortunately didn't peak during the pre-teen years & a keen interest in footy has turned from playing to coaching, volunteering and writing.


  1. Daniel Flesch says

    Nice write-up Jarrod , and an equally nice change from the usual devoted Swans -besotted writers.
    We like an upset of the year unless it’s our own club on the wrong end of it .

  2. Jarrod_L says

    Thanks Daniel, the only other Suns game I’ve written about this year was a loss – that in itself is a nice change!

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