Joyce’s Team of the Rising Suns

COMING off the back off an incredible victory – arguably the Suns’ best away win in women’s club history – Gold Coast coach Cameron Joyce could hardly contain his pride and excitement for what his team could produce this season. Having struggled against Victorian sides in Melbourne, Joyce’s Suns found a way to outlast finalists Collingwood and pick up a 12-point victory at Victoria Park.

“We respect them so much, they’ve been in the competition since the start,” Joyce said of the Magpies. “They’ve been a great team and we want to be a great team too. To come here against a pretty experienced Collingwood team and to have a win against them, and have our first win against a Melbourne team in Melbourne in our history, it’s just a great day.”

Winning at Victoria Park is never easy, and though the Magpies lead by seven points at quarter time, the Suns booted five of the last six goals to make the most of their chances and grind out a 5.3 (33) to 2.9 (21) victory.

One of the key factors in the win was Lucy Single‘s shutdown role on Collingwood skipper Brianna Davey who was in scintillating form through the midfield.

“She’s keeps taking on the task of each week to play on the best midfielder and Bri’s obviously a star of the comp and won the W Awards and all the accolades,” Joyce said. “I thought she was fantastic today Luce, she had it [20] times herself and held Bri to [18] and did exactly the job we wanted. Sam Iles our midfield coach goes to school with Luce on playing on the best players and their preparation was spot on as normal.”

While many taggers focus on purely restricting an opponent from winning the ball, Joyce understands the importance of each midfielder still being able to find the ball. He described Single’s performance to both shutdown Davey, and find more of the ball herself as “huge”.

“We’re still trying to develop Luce as a tagger as to ‘what’s her identity as a tagger?’ Is it going to be just to shut her out and get minimal possessions herself? She’s really developing in being able to win the ball first,” Joyce said. “Sometimes that’s the best way to defend is to win the ball before they can, and she did that countless times today for us and sent the ball forward and was really important in getting the win.”

The win was a relieving one for Gold Coast fans after the Suns fell short of victory against Carlton at Ikon Park in Round 1. The two-point loss was the only blemish in the Suns rocketing to a 3-0 start to Season 8. Joyce said his team learnt from Round 1 and altered areas to get the job done this time around.

“I think they (Collingwood) almost had it 80 per cent time in forward half and it just kept building and building and I thought our defenders held up,” Joyce said. They might have had three or four shots but our defenders were able to hold up enough that we were able to get the ball forward enough in the end to be effective and that’s what I said at three quarter time.

“That was the one stat that was missing. We were winning contested footy, competing in clearance, being able to get enough ball on the outside but just being able to when we got it forward to keep it there, and set up behind the ball and we were able to do that in the last quarter which really helped the win.”

It helped that experienced utility Jamie Stanton booted three goals in the win, to add her her incredible six majors against West Coast last week. Joyce praised her performance and ability to get the job done inside 50.

“Jamie just adds experience and she’s so smart,” he said. “In terms of her going forward, I had no doubt that she was going to be effective. Maybe not nine in two weeks, but at the same time, I’m rapt for her because she has been working really hard on her game, she’s come back from an ACL, it hasn’t been easy.

“I’ve really been getting her to work, work up the ground, work back, playing a couple of different roles within the forwardline at times. She’s adapting really well and getting the results as well.”

Joyce said he hoped this was the signs of a new era at the Suns, with the past nine quarters being more like the brand he wanted to build at the club.

“I think our last quarter against Carlton and our four-quarter performance last week, we really wanted to take that into today and just the momentum of it, but also just the mindset,” he said. “The mindset that we can play the footy that we’ve been training through preseason.

“We’ve been able to do it now, the girls have seen it which was a really important steps. You’ve probably seen it in bits and fits and starts today, but I reckon you saw the new Gold Coast Suns in terms of the way we want to move the ball today.”

Gold Coast hosts the winless Western Bulldogs next week to potentially move to 3-1 in the season, before a huge Round 5 clash against Adelaide at Wigan Oval in Round 6.

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