By Michael Whiting 04:20pm April 26, 14
GOLD Coast has easily won the battle of the expansion clubs with a 40-point win over Greater Western Sydney at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.
The Suns were in control for most of the day, building a four-goal lead early and cruising home on a hot Gold Coast afternoon to finish 20.14 (134) to 13.16 (94) winners.
The victory cements their spot in the top eight with a 4-2 record ahead of next Sunday's trip to Etihad Stadium to play in-form North Melbourne.
Vice-captain Tom Lynch kicked a career-high five goals as the Suns finished with 11 different goalkickers, but the win was built on an emphatic midfield display.
After the Giants held the early ascendency at the clearances, the exciting Suns midfielders took over.
Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna was bubbling with excitement after the match about the contribution of his men in the middle.
"I think we're understanding the ability to consistently compete," McKenna said.
"And given the options we've got - David Swallow, Jaeger O'Meara, Dion Prestia and on the outside Tiger (Matt) Shaw, and then the skipper (Gary Ablett) adds a touch to our midfield as well.
"We've certainly got some numbers to go through."
Ablett again led from the front with a first-class performance.
Despite the tight tagging of Tom Scully for all four quarters, the dual Brownlow medallist waltzed to another best on ground display with 30 disposals, 11 clearances and two goals – including one typically amazing effort.
While the Giants got within eight points in the second quarter, the little master served up another gem for his highlights collection.
He roved a pack 20m from goal, faked right, then faked left and came back on to his right foot to snap truly – all while moving further away from goal.
While Ablett was his usual brilliant self, he had plenty of mates, led by Dion Prestia (32), Jaeger O'Meara (30) and David Swallow (27).
The Suns had to overcome the late withdrawal of ruckman Tom Nicholls with a calf injury that offset team balance.
It forced regular fullback Rory Thompson into a full-time ruck role, and Nicholls' replacement Matthew Warnock into defence.
As a result Trent McKenzie played undersized on the Giants No.1 draft pick Tom Boyd, but it made little difference.
Giants coach Leon Cameron said there were just too many holes to plug as the match wore on.
"It turned into a little bit of a ping pong and unfortunately we couldn’t stop it," he said.
"They’ve got very good midfielders and they scored four or five goals from the centre bounce.
"You need to get the ball forward there to help your defence, if it's going the other way at 100 miles an hour it's difficult to stop."
Jeremy Cameron kicked four goals in an engrossing battle with Steven May. Jonathon Patton (two goals) was solid as he switched ends of the ground, but Boyd was subbed off during the third quarter.
With a depleted side missing the likes of Shane Mumford, Phil Davis and Josh Kelly, the experienced Heath Shaw was excellent with 27 disposals.
Callan Ward (32), Adam Treloar (28) and Stephen Coniglio (27) were tireless in defeat for the Giants.
Gary Ablett snaps a sublime goal over Adam Kennedy at Metricon Stadium in the Suns' 40-point win. Picture: AFL Media
GOLD COAST 6.1 8.7 14.12 20.14 (134)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 1.6 5.9 8.12 13.16 (94)
Gold Coast: Lynch 5, Hall 2, Rischitelli 2, Matera 2, Ablett 2, Stanley 2, Swallow, Shaw, Broughton, Prestia, Day
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 4, Patton 2, Hoskin-Elliott 2, Tomlinson, Tomlinson, Coniglio, Lamb, Kennedy
Gold Coast: Ablett, Lynch, Swallow, O’Meara, Kolodjashnij
Greater Western Sydney: Shaw, Hoskin-Elliott, Cameron, Patton, Ward
Gold Coast: Nil
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Gold Coast: Timmy Sumner replaced by Jack Hutchins in the third quarter.
Greater Western Sydney: Tom Boyd replaced by Tomas Bugg in the third quarter.
Umpires: Burgess, Findlay and Armstrong
Official crowd: 11,504 at Metricon Stadium