PORT Adelaide gave Gold Coast a harsh reminder it had a long way to go to match the AFL's best, easily accounting for the Suns by 47 points at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night.
The Power were slick in almost perfect conditions, pressuring their young opponents into errors and punishing them on the counter-attack to win 10.16 (76) to 4.5 (29).
SUNS OUT-CLASSED Full match coverage and stats
Port kicked the final five goals of the opening quarter to lead by 19 points and extended it to 40 by half-time.
They coasted after the main break and played most of the second half without Hamish Hartlett, who left the field with a quad injury in the third term.
The midfield was exceptional, with veteran Travis Boak (25 disposals and seven clearances) leading the way, while young forwards Todd Marshall and Mitch Georgiades were lively with two goals apiece.
The opening exchanges were nip-and-tuck, but when Port put the foot down, Gold Coast simply couldn't go with them.
The loss was Gold Coast's 19th in succession after it failed to win a match beyond round four last season.
Sam Collins, who had plenty of ball coming his way, was a rock in defence, while Ben Ainsworth can hold his head high on a rough opening night for the Suns.
It started in the centre
What shaped as a good midfield matchup was terribly one-sided. Port Adelaide's onball brigade, led by Travis Boak (25) and Tom Rockliff (26), put on a clinic in the first half to set up victory. After conceding the game's first goal, Port's midfield got to work, setting up successive goals to debutant Mitch Georgiades and clever Steven Motlop direct from centre clearances. When Zak Butters goaled inside the opening minute of the second quarter – again from a lovely Rockliff-Boak interchange – the writing was on the wall.
Hello, Mitch Georgiades!
The No.18 pick from last year's draft is already looking like an astute selection. The 192cm West Australian was upgraded from the third tall option to the second when Charlie Dixon failed to overcome an adductor problem, and the 18-year-old revelled. He flew for his marks – almost bringing down a spectacular first quarter grab – and settled any nerves with a lovely set-shot just minutes later. He finished with two goals from 11 touches and looked right at home with his athleticism and hard running.
New season, same Suns
After winning both its Marsh Community Series matches, there was genuine optimism around Gold Coast's season. But after a strong first 10 minutes they fell away badly for the remainder of the first half. The Suns were wasteful going inside 50 early on and were then hammered in the centre. Defensively they let Port get out the back on a couple of occasions and battled to run with their opponents following turnovers. The effort was there, but the execution wasn't.
No Charlie, no worries for Port's forward line
While the late withdrawal of Dixon was a disruption for Port, you wouldn't have known the way its forward line functioned. Young targets Todd Marshall (two goals) and Georgiades flew for marks and ran hard to create space. If they didn't clunk it, Motlop, Robbie Gray and the ultra-slick Connor Rozee were there to mop up. Gray was often the deepest forward and the ability of Port to rotate its options will give opponents headaches if they win a fair share of the ball.
Rowell and Anderson look right at home
Gold Coast's top-two draft picks were always expected to have an immediate impact, and they didn't disappoint. Noah Anderson was in everything in the first quarter, racking up eight of his 12 disposals, and although he ran out of legs, showed composure in the heat some of his teammates lacked. Matt Rowell also looked right at home. The No.1 pick started on the bench but impacted immediately, keeping his feet while others didn't and finished with 19 disposals.
Gold Coast: No real problems for the Suns.
Port Adelaide: It got crazy in the second half for the Power with Hamish Hartlett (quad), Sam Powell-Pepper (shoulder) and Brad Ebert (knee) all leaving the field. Hartlett did not return, while the other pair did, although Ebert looked very proppy.
Port Adelaide will be out to make it two-from-two next Saturday night when it faces arch-rival Adelaide in the Showdown at Adelaide Oval starting at 7.10pm (ACDT). Gold Coast has the tough trip to Geelong next Sunday to play the Cats at GMHBA Stadium at 1.10pm (AEDT).
GOLD COAST 1.1 3.2 4.5 4.5 (29)
PORT ADELAIDE 4.2 9.6 9.9 10.16 (76)
Gold Coast: King, Lemmens, Swallow, Ainsworth
Port Adelaide: Marshall 2, Georgiades 2, Motlop 2, Rozee, Ebert, Butters, Hartlett
Gold Coast: Collins, Ainsworth, Miller, Greenwood, Ellis
Port Adelaide: Boak, Rockliff, Gray, Rozee, Byrne-Jones, Amon
Gold Coast: Nil
Port Adelaide: Bonner (quad, replaced in selected side by Lienert), Hartlett (quad), Powell-Pepper (shoulder), Ebert (knee)
Umpires: Ryan, Gianfagna, Glouftsis