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Gold Coast season review: MVP, low point, final grade

No.6 draft pick Ben King should have Suns fans excited for the future - AFL,Season reviews,Gold Coast Suns
No.6 draft pick Ben King should have Suns fans excited for the future
In a nutshell

The Suns started with a lot of promise, winning three of their first four, but fizzled from then on. They were super competitive until the bye, but as the injuries mounted and confidence dropped, they fell apart in the final weeks.

What we said in the pre-season 

Not much was expected with AFL.com.au's 'crystal ball' predicting the Suns to finish with the wooden spoon. Most thought they'd win between two and four games, which, in hindsight, was on the mark.

What worked

Getting the co-captains spot on

Following the departures of Tom Lynch and Steven May, the cupboard looked light on for leaders. Jarrod Witts and David Swallow were absolutely magnificent on and off the field.

MISSED THE FINALS? Your club's first off-season priority

Locking in players long-term

Retention is arguably the most important thing to correct, and while the immediate futures of Jack Martin and Callum Ah Chee are in limbo, most of the top talent aged 25 and under – including No.3 draft pick Izak Rankine - have committed long-term.

Exposing youngsters to more prominent midfield roles

It's the bedrock of any strong team, and Gold Coast got plenty of game time into its younger players in the midfield. Aside from older heads Swallow and Anthony Miles, it was Touk Miller, Brayden Fiorini, Jack Bowes, Ben Ainsworth and Darcy Macpherson that did much of the heavy lifting in the middle of the ground.

What failed

Injuries, injuries, injuries

From the moment Rory Thompson did his ACL in the pre-season it was all downhill. Collision injuries outweighed soft tissue problems, but it was of little solace for a team that missed Bowes, Ainsworth, Pearce Hanley, Sam Collins, Jack Hombsch and Rankine for large stretches.

Inability to score

They wanted to keep things in tight and contested and the result was real trouble scoring. They averaged a paltry 61 points a game and topped 80 just twice. 

Mature recruits

Miles gets a tick, as does Hombsch. Unfortunately, former Tiger Corey Ellis battled both injury and form, while George Horlin-Smith – although an off-field beacon of professionalism – struggled to contribute. Jordan Murdoch had his moments but was inconsistent.

Overall rating

C-

Most predicted two to four wins but the drop-off has been stark.

The coach

Stuart Dew's real moment of reckoning will be 2020 when some on-field progress will be expected in his third season in charge. Gold Coast's board has instructed CEO Mark Evans to begin working on a contract extension.

MVP

Jarrod Witts: Shouldered an incredible workload as a co-captain and one-out ruckman and came out with an enhanced reputation. Most hitouts in the competition (third-most to advantage) and sits on the rung of ruckmen below only Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn.

Surprise packet

Darcy Macpherson: Turned himself from a small forward in the NEAFL to a reliable AFL midfielder. Ranked top 10 in the AFL for pressure acts, Macpherson also averaged 19 disposals and six tackles.

 
Get excited

Ben King: The No.6 draft pick exceeded all expectations. Playing as a key forward, King showed his limitless potential with bags of four goals against Essendon and three against both Collingwood and GWS. Reads the ball beautifully and his contested marking was a feature.

Disappointment

Peter Wright: After Lynch departed it was hoped Wright could grab the mantle as the Suns' go-to man, but 'Two Metre Peter' just couldn't find the consistency and was banished to the NEAFL late in the season.

Best win

Round 2: Gold Coast 7.19 (61) d. Fremantle 8.10 (58)

Trailing by 17 points early in the last quarter, the Suns looked done. But led by Jarrod Harbrow (32 disposals) and Alex Sexton (four goals), they stormed home for an unlikely win. Co-captain David Swallow kicked the go-ahead goal in the dying minutes, while former Docker Sam Collins sealed victory with a late intercept mark.

Best individual performance

David Swallow. Round 8 v Melbourne

The co-captain didn't deserve to be on the losing team that night. He finished with 35 disposals, including 22 contested and 13 clearances. It was a Herculean four-quarter performance that typified his season.

Low point

After conceding 100 points in a half and losing by 92 to Richmond in round 16, the Suns dished up even worse seven days later. The 95-point loss to Adelaide lacked the care they'd built their season on. What's even worse is that both matches were at Metricon Stadium.

The big questions

Will the Suns get an 'assistance package' from the AFL?

Can they retain Jack Martin and Callum Ah Chee?

Will the Suns improve in 2020?

Season in a movie title

The Dark Side of the Sun

Who's done?

Retirements: Michael Rischitelli

Delistings: Nil

Unsigned free agents: Nick Holman, Jack Leslie, Tom Nicholls, Brad Scheer, Harrison Wigg

WHO'S HANGING UP THE BOOTS? Your club's retirements and delistings

How should they approach trade and draft period?

Although they want quicker improvement, the Suns still have to play the long game. More high-end talent at the draft to mix with its current 21-and-under crop is the priority. They should only trade for experienced players if they can play week in, week out (like Jack Hombsch this year), not just for the sake of saying there's more experience.

Early call for 2020

They need to be competitive every week – not just the first 14 rounds. Wins are nice, but much like the 2018 version of Brisbane, percentage is your best guide. That should be in excess of 80.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs