Suns bounce back to sink Saints

AFTER a disappointing Round 3 defeat at the hands of Brisbane at The Gabba, Gold Coast Suns were able to turn it around to post a 5.12 (42) to 4.4 (28) win over St Kilda. Suns head coach Cameron Joyce said it was important that the players were able to respond to the heavy defeat against the Lions last week, and refocus their attention on the job at hand in Mackay.

“We were really impressed first of all to get the win,” Joyce said. “We knew that the Saints had come into the game with some decent form, and held Melbourne for the last three quarters as well which I think can get underestimated, and just the way our girls went around the contest and were able to get the ball forward for us and get us a chance to score was really pleasing.

“Our ability to bounce back was something that we spoke about throughout the week and the girls really were able to bring everything back a little bit to what’s really important. Sometimes after a loss like that, everyone can be thinking about all different things. We tried to bring it in a little bit, focus on what was really important and go to work today.”

The Suns were unable to make the most of their chances in the first half, with just two goals from 10 shots, but still lead by 12 points at the main break. They booted three important goals to go up to a handy 32-point three quarter time lead, before the Saints struck with the last three goals of the game. It would not be enough, with the Suns able to hold on in windy conditions.

“It’s funny we were here yesterday and you’re staring at the ceiling and then early hours of the morning, thinking how are we going to structure up here in terms of just the winds,” Joyce said. “Certainly to the left of screen, played some havoc and I thought our girls really responded well with that and were able to adapt and adjust, so that was really nice.”

One of the stars of the show was former number one draft pick, Charlie Rowbottom. The inside midfielder crashed and bashed her way to 30 touches, three marks, nine tackles and six clearances to be the clear best on ground in the win.

“I thought she was outstanding,” Joyce said. “We know she just laps up the contest and gives everything and she wants to be elite and wants to be one of the best players in the competition and with performances like that today, if she can keep backing that up then she’ll get closer and closer to that sooner rather than later. We love her being apart of our team and the girls really feed off that when she goes in and around the contest.”

Showcasing her versatility, Kalinda Howarth was able to play at both ends, kicking two goals from 22 disposals, but spending time behind the ball when the wind was heavily favouring St Kilda’s goals, much like in the final term.

“She’s just got a great understanding of the game and just really smart,” Joyce said. “So to be able to use her forward and kick a couple of goals and then swing her back a little bit when we needed her to get behind the ball is just a luxury to have that at our disposal. She was excellent today.”

Playing at Mackay for the second time in as many seasons, Joyce said he hoped to turn it into a fortress similar to Metricon Stadium, and make it difficult for teams to beat them at their homegrounds.

“We need to make them our own and make it really hard when teams come and play us up here and at Metricon, that it’s going to be hard to walk away with the victory,” Joyce said. “We’re just trying to build that, we’ve won a game at Metricon and won a game at Mackay and we want to really build on that. We enjoy coming up here, people are really welcoming and the ground is in amazing conditions and the facilities are going to be second to none once it all gets built and finished. We couldn’t be happier with the partnership.”

Next week the Gold Coast Suns head back south, but to Bond University in order to host Port Adelaide on Sunday, September 25. The game kicks off from 1:10pm, with the Power coming off their first ever win in AFLW history.

“There’s no easy games in this competition and we’re rapt to win today and get back to 2-2 and really dial in and train really well this week and put on a really good showing next week,” Joyce said.

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