GOLD Coast is doing a lot right this season, yet is still languishing with just two wins.

Following a first-up victory over a depleted West Coast, the Suns have lost five of their past six matches, and an upcoming schedule of Sydney (away) and Fremantle (home) threatens to spoil their dreams of a finals push.

Aside from one poor outing against Greater Western Sydney in round three, Stuart Dew's men have been ultra-competitive.

Watching them closely tells us a couple of things, though.

They have almost completely changed the way they play in 2022, and the fundamentals are there for success.

Stuart Dew addresses his team during the round seven clash between Gold Coast and Collingwood at the MCG on May 1, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Statistics provided by Champion Data show Gold Coast has more stoppages (34.1) than any team in their forward half of the ground. They are also ranked third in the competition for time in forward half differential, averaging eight minutes more than their opponents.

Put simply, the ball is living in the Suns' front half. The more direct 'forward half' game has been used as a recipe for success by many teams.

It's leading to an extra five inside 50s a game than their opponent, yet that's not translating to the scoreboard.

Gold Coast Suns

2022 Avg.


Time in Fwd Half Diff.



Inside 50 Diff.



Kick Inside 50 to Intercept rate



Scores per Inside 50



Shot at goal accuracy



Fwd Half Stoppages



Scores from FH Stoppages



Clearance to Score %



Points conceded from Turnover



It's a problem Melbourne fans can relate to, with the Demons going through 2019 and 2020 owning much of the ball but unable to convert it into goals.

Conversely, when the opposition gets its hands on the ball, it seems far too easy to score.

Co-captain Touk Miller says he's "super confident" in Gold Coast's re-worked gameplan.

"We have a lot of belief our gameplan is going to work, and it works against every team," he said.

"I truly believe what we're doing we can knock off anyone."

But as the ladder shows, that's simply not the case through seven rounds.

Gold Coast co-captain Touk Miller looks dejected after losing to Collingwood in R7, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

So where are things breaking down?

In his post-match press conference following last Sunday's loss to Collingwood, Dew said he would have to continue educating his team – a true-enough comment, but frustrating for a group that has now largely been together for two-plus years.

"We have changed our style and it is (education) ongoing," he said during the week.

"A large part of pre-season was based on that and it has changed … we haven't been able to settle our forward line. 

"It isn't an excuse, it's just reality. We'll keep knocking away and pounding the rock on it."

There are a few key areas Dew needs to address.

Connection inside forward 50

This one stands out like a beacon and has a couple of layers.

On the surface, the Suns have enough weapons to kick a winning score. Despite the devastating knee injury suffered by precious talent Ben King in February, off-season recruits Levi Casboult (16 goals) and Mabior Chol (14) have been excellent targets in the first seven rounds.

00:33 Mins
Published on

Chol shows athleticism with tough dribbler

Mabior Chol put through this ripping goal to extend his side's lead midway through the second term

Published on

Ben Ainsworth (eight goals and eight assists) is in arguably the best patch of form of his career and offering consistent spark at half-forward.

There's plenty of ball going inside 50 and good targets there, but Gold Coast's ball use forward of centre has been poor to say the least.

The Suns are ranked 17th for kicks inside 50 being intercepted. Almost one in two kicks going into the danger zone are being intercepted by an opponent.

That's leading to less than 40 per cent of inside 50s resulting in scores, also ranked 17th in the competition.

"A couple of times we've rolled (played on from a mark) really early without knowing what's ahead of us," Dew said.

Dougal Howard spoils an attempted mark from Levi Casboult in the R5 clash between St Kilda and Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium on April 16, 2022. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

"Then you're putting yourself under more pressure than you need.

"Just that composure between 50m to 80m. you have to make sure you've got good representation (ahead of the ball)."

Whether it's method or execution, the connection is costing Gold Coast dearly. The turnovers are proving costly from a defensive standpoint as well, but we'll get to that a bit later.

Making the most of clearances

The next issue is just as glaring.

In Jarrod Witts, the Suns have arguably the most dominant tap ruckman in the League. In fact, the co-captain is averaging a whopping 14.6 hitouts to advantage a game, more than anyone in the AFL.

However, what the Suns do from there would make you wince.

They only score from 14 per cent of those hitouts to advantage, ranking them 16th. Overall, their ability to score directly from clearances is rock bottom in the competition.

Jarrod Witts wins a hitout against Jack Silvagni during the R4 clash between Gold Coast and Carlton at Metricon Stadium on April 10, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Defensive pressure

The third notable red flag is around defence.

This is not to be confused with what happens purely inside the defensive 50 – Sam Collins, for example, is having a wonderful season – but all over the ground.

Tackles can be a misleading stat if you're always winning the ball, but the Suns lay 10 fewer tackles than their opponents each match, which is the worst differential in the League.

It was highlighted by Jack Ginnivan's elusive stepping along the boundary line last Sunday.

00:55 Mins
Published on

Ginnivan stuns the Suns with insane dancing finish

Jack Ginnivan steps around three Suns to kick a stunning goal

Published on

Gold Coast has also defended its turnovers poorly, conceding 55 points a game from that source.

Dew said they had to learn to "stem the flow" better.

Although the Suns are playing quicker, more direct and keeping the ball in their front half more than ever, the above problem areas must be addressed quickly or Dew risks watching another season slip away before it really gets going.