Classic Contests: Suns shine brighter late

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 3 clashes in the NAB League this year between Brisbane Lions Academy and Gold Coast Suns Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019, as both teams are new to the competition and therefore only have the one previous meeting.

BRISBANE LIONS 1.4 | 4.5 | 5.9 | 5.12 (42)
GOLD COAST SUNS 2.4 | 4.6 | 5.7 | 10.10 (70)

Round 3 | Saturday, April 6
Yeronga, 11am

The two Queensland Northern Academies would do battle for the first time at Yeronga just over 12 months ago in what was an even clash for three quarters. Both sides were coming into the new-look Academy Series with wins under their belt following the Lions’ 26-point triumph over GIANTS Academy and the Suns getting up by 44 over the Northern Territory Thunder.

Both sides had chances in the opening term, but did not make the most of them, with Gold Coast coming out a goal ahead courtesy of an extra major to lead 2.4 to 1.4 at the first break. Brisbane got back on track in the second term to boot three goals to two and get within a point at half-time as both sides were evenly matched across the field. An early goal in the third term to the Lions through Blake Coleman – the last goal for Brisbane – would hand his side back the lead in the opening minute of the term, with a stalemate taking place over the next 20 before exciting forward, Hewago Paul Oea broke the drought for the Suns. By the time the siren had gone, Brisbane led by just two points and it was game on for the last term.

Gold Coast hit the front through a future Sun, Matt Conroy goal seven minutes into the final term. The Suns then led by five points and never surrendered the lead for the remainder of the match. Back-to-back behinds for the Lions hurt as Brisbane got within three points of the Suns 11 minutes into the term, but four consecutive goals to Josh Gore, Patrick Murtagh, Conroy and Harrison Rowles put the contest to bed and the Suns were home by a very comfortable 28 points.

Ashton Crossley would continue his ball-winning form with 31 touches (22 contested) and 10 clearances, while Connor Budarick would rack up 26 disposals, five tackles, three clearances and six inside 50s. Bottom-age talent Alex Davies found his fair share of the ball with 22 touches, three marks, five inside 50s and three rebounds. Oea booted the one goal from 17 disposals and eight inside 50s, always looking lively, while Gore was the major goalkicker for his side, slotting three from 12 touches and seven marks, Conroy had a very solid outing through the ruck and as a resting forward, finishing with eight touches, three marks, four tackles, 25 hitouts and those two crucial last quarter goals.

Tom Griffiths was the top ball winner for the Lions with 27 disposals, five marks and four rebounds, as Bruce Reville found plenty of it through midfield courtesy of 26 disposals, eight marks, five tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Ethan Hunt was a prominent player out of defence with 18 touches, six marks and six rebounds, while future Richmond draftee, Noah Cumberland helped himself to 13 touches, four clearances and six inside 50s, along with another future Tiger in Will Martyn (12 disposals, five tackles).

Gold Coast Suns would go on to win the Academy Series, with Budarick taking out the Hunter-Harrison Medal for the best player in the competition. Brisbane would unfortunately lose four consecutive matches after that first triumph.

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