FOLLOWING a disappointing first three quarters against North Melbourne in Round 1, Gold Coast coach Cam Joyce challenged his players to be better for longer. In that match, the Suns had scored one behind to the final break, before finishing off with the last two goals of the game. Since going goalless in those three terms, the Suns have booted nine goals in the next six, as they came away with a commanding 33-point win over West Coast on Sunday evening.
“The first three quarters were not the way we wanted to play, we want to get the footy down our end and score,” Joyce said after his side’s loss to North Melbourne. “In the last quarter we showed that – had nine inside 50s to three, two goals to none and they (North Melbourne) couldn’t score off that.
“The players have been able to see that against a quality team. “We’re really trying to get that going this week at training and get back to our identity. “We need to make sure we’re ready to take the game on from the start rather than the game coming to us.”
Fast forward a week and the Suns were on from the early stages, dominating the hitouts (45-18) and clearances (31-17), and remain on top in the inside 50s (31-24). Joyce said he was “really impressed and proud” of his group and how the players had responded to the challenge.
“I think the midfield got us started which was great,” he said. “They did some heavy lifting in there which gave us some territory and some opportunities to score and then the girls set up behind the ball really well so it was a reasonably complete performance. “We would have liked to have get that last little bit right, that last five or 10 minutes, but at the same time we were really happy with a four-quarter effort.”
After conceding six goals in those first three quarters of the season, Gold Coast’s defence went four only conceding one behind. Though the Eagles booted two in the final term in eerily similar circumstances to the Suns the week before, Joyce said he was “definitely” pleased with his side’s defensive measures.
“Our defence, we’ve spent a bit of time working on our defence off the back of last year,” he said. “Trying to concede less, trying to get that synergy also too, so we’ve brought in Georgia Clayden which has been really good. She’s really athletic and competitive which we like. Wallis Randell has really stepped up as well through that.
“A lot of the other girls have been mainstays for us but I think they’re getting more continuity with each other, but also too some are actually getting more continuity with training and games as well. Lauren Ahrens and Serene Watson were two that were quite hampered last year as well so we’re excited for their development and their improvement as well.”
There were plenty of firsts for the Suns in the win, with ex-Blue Courtney Jones coming in and kicking two goals for her club debut, while debutant Giselle Davies snagged one from the goalsquare on the overlap.
“We knew Courtney had those attributes obviously when we recruited her she was leading goalkicker for Carlton last year, I think she kicked 8.5 last year so we knew she’s a regular goalkicker and I think she had another opportunity to kick one as well which really shows that she can add to our our forwardline,” Joyce said.
“Then also too Giselle playing her first game, I think it was awesome seeing her kick a goal and the girls get around her as well. “That’s what it’s about too, just making sure that when girls come in they have a really good experience and she’s certainly worked hard for her chance.”
Gold Coast now sets its sights on one of the benchmarks in the competition with a huge clash against Brisbane in Round 3. After gaining a confidence-boosting win over the Eagles, Joyce knows the intensity will increase ten-fold and that bringing the heat was going to be “pretty important”.
“Any game starts around the contest, they’re obviously excellent at it, their form has been scintillating really so we’re under no illusions that we’ve got to bring that, but if we do, we think there’s a contest,” he said.
“We’ve played some good teams. North Melbourne they’re a good footy team, they’ve been since they started and they ran Melbourne to two points. “We try to find that balance between riding too much in terms of the highs and lows and keeping things as stable as possible within that and just focusing on how we want to play and dialling in on that and training as hard as we can to improve. “We’ve done that this week and we’ve got to do it again next week.”