DESPITE some “trying” conditions, Gold Coast Suns AFL Women’s coach Cameron Joyce was pleased his side was still able to put up a good score at Henson Park to down the Swans in the wet by 34 points. Gold Coast kept Sydney to just two goals from five scoring shots in the match, while having 14 themselves with an even 7.7 (49) to 2.3 (15) as plenty of contributors stood tall.
“We obviously knew with the forecast we might get some rain and probably who was going to adapt to those conditions was probably going to get the ascendancy in the game and I thought the girls did that really well today which was pleasing,” Joyce said.
“We knew that the Swans have been really good at their hardball gets and around the contest. We pride ourselves on that too and we needed to match and raise them in that area which I thought we did throughout the day and put enough pressure on them going forward to be able to create some scores.
“We were under no illusion coming here and the Swans wanting to get their first win, we had to be really on our game and the girls preparation was excellent and we probably learnt a few things from similar games like this last year, the girls maturing a bit too.”
Gold Coast dominated the centre clearances 9-2, for an overall clearance differential of 32-23, with Joyce crediting his two rucks and entire midfield group for the dominance in that area.
“I think we get really good drive from our rucks both Lauren Bella and Jac Dupuy,” Joyce said. “In terms of the combination, we’re pretty fortunate to have that combination in terms of both of them going through there and both of them winning their fair share of hitouts.
“Then the four onballers all had 15 possessions upwards today, and clearances and tackles, the whole lot today, just shows that they’re running on top of the ground and in good form which is great.”
Last year’s number one draft pick Charlie Rowbottom went head-to-head with the most recent top pick in Sydney’s Montana Ham, with the former Vic Metro teammates reacquainting themselves with each other playing north of their home state.
“Montana Ham’s going to be a fantastic player. You’d arguably say she is now. But very, very talented girl and they’ve got a number of talented players who will come through in the coming years,” Joyce said. “Charlie along with all our mids I think they’re working really well together and as I said, that bit of synergy between them is giving them all opportunity to be involved and win the footy and compete on defence and also offence. Charlie’s had a great year and another great game today. These conditions as well she just smiles as she runs out in these conditions.”
While Rowbottom had another 22 disposals and eight clearances against the Swans, Joyce said there was still plenty of scope for her to improve. Though it was her second season at the top level, it was just beyond 12 months since the former Oakleigh Chargers premiership players joined the club.
“In terms of the time that she’s been at the footy club, it’s not a lot,” Joyce said. “Her work rate and just wanting to get better is just so good, it gives us a really good opportunity to teach her other things and get her mind engaged in really trying to improve her game from her kicking efficiency to keep working on that and keep working on her uncontested around the ground, which both of those things have really improved this year to give her more of the ball and also more impact. Those two things are clearly some things that have risen her game to another level.”
Gold Coast has snuck inside the eight via percentage, bringing the Suns’ total up to 96.6 as the Western Bulldogs suffered a huge loss at the hands of third placed Melbourne. While finals are the ultimate goal for the Suns, now it is Joyce’s side’s turn to come up against the red and blue.
“I said to the girls in terms of progress for us at the minute, there’s a lot of ways to measure progress with stats and other things, and one of the ways is the scoreboard, and by winning today we’ve won our most games, we beat last year’s three and a draw,” Joyce said.
“We’re really excited about launching from here and taking on Melbourne next week. We understand we’ve got three games left, but no better challenge than to take on one of the league leaders and acquit ourselves against them and see where we’re at.”