Suns Almost Burn Demons

May 13, 2023 by
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

Round 8 – Gold Coast V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

The Suns have promised to be competitive during the last few season but continue to fall short when it comes to reaching the finals. This year could the one though. They showed enormous courage against Melbourne in an attempt to reverse recent history.

Showing how difficult a task that would be was illustrated by Jacob van Rooyen when he took a contested mark, then went back to score the first goal, despite Gold Coast’s early dominance.

The Dees continued to hover in their forward 50 but the Suns’ defence was determined to keep them at bay. Melbourne broke through eventually when Kysaiah Pickett took a mark 30m out from goal and converted, increasing the advantage. Brodie Grundy got his name on the score sheet again this week when Mabior Chol was denied a mark close to the square. The quick thinking ruck collected the ground ball and snapped through for a goal.

The Suns finally got a major when they ran from their goal square, right through the corridor to inside 50 where Malcolm Rosas took a hand pass and made it to the edge of the square, kicking from point blank range. The tables had now seemingly flipped in Gold Coast’s favour as they piled the pressure on Melbourne’s defence. The tackling intensity increased from both sides with the fans now knowing they were watching a game.

Rosas had a chance to kick his second when he took a mark from Levi Casboult 40m in front. He didn’t disappoint the home crowd; reducing the lead to eight points. Mabior Chol reduced it to a single point when he took a hand pass and snapped the ball from 15m.

Just before quarter time, Kade Chandler continued his stellar season when he ducked and weaved his way through the Suns’ defence before kicking the ball high and bending it through the posts.

If Melbourne had any preconceived notions about emulating round 7’s high scoring demolition of the Roos, they were quickly fading as they ran on for the second term. They knew they were up against an opponent who wasn’t going to die wondering.

It was the Demons again who opened the scoring when Max Gawn took a mark from a well placed Jack Viney kick. His set shot from 20m in front went through cleanly and Melbourne was thirteen points to the good. The Dees had the majority of the play in the first five minutes, but the Suns managed to sneak one in when Levi Casboult took a contested mark in the pocket. He speared it through, putting the heat back on the visitors.

It had been a low scoring second quarter but then James Jordan got a lucky 50m penalty and made the most of it with his accurate 40m set shot. After the clearance, Melbourne got the ball straight to inside 50 where Grundy marked and converted for his second of the afternoon.

Up by twenty points, it looked like the Dees were pulling away and had the game under control; looks can be deceptive however. Melbourne again won the clearance, but this time Gold Coast was able to break out quickly and counterattack. Jack Lukosius marked right on the 50m line, then backed himself in to kick the 55m set shot. Suddenly it was a contest again.

Then it was a case of the Suns shining when Malcolm Rosas took a hand pass after a stoppage and snapped form 40m to clear the goal line. Emotions were high and rising when Mabior Chol took a mark 40m from home with half time looming. His successful set shot made it a one point game and a potentially explosive third quarter.

Then right on the cusp of the siren, Alex Neal-Bullen snapped a bullet to relieve the pressure valve, giving Melbourne the breathing space they so desperately needed.

With the margin still only seven points (recurring), the second term had been a see sawing affair. Could the Suns replicate their form from the first half, or would the Dees flick the switch and over run the home side? From the opening bounce, it was obvious Gold Coast had no intention of making it any easier for the Demons. The pressure and hard tackling continued.

Then, we witnessed one of those magic moment form Kozzie Pickett, where he effortlessly ducked, weaved and spun his way to the edge of the square before chipping high into the stands. The margin was back to out to thirteen points, but no champagne corks were popping just yet. We started the second term in similar fashion, then the Suns fought back quickly to be snapping at our heels.

As if on cue, Levi Casboult took a vice like mark a mere 10m from the goal and it was back to that mystical seven point number again. As Gold Coast continued to challenge the Dees, they could sniff an upset in the air. They were feeding off their own sense of belief and continued to put everything they had into the attack. The reward came with a Ben King free kick directly in front. He may have been inconsistent in the past but not anymore. The big forward kicked his twelfth straight set shot goal and took the Suns to within a point of Melbourne.

It was back to seven (again) when Jake Bowey almost casually plucked the ball from a passing Suns’ player and snapped a goal. Fun fact, Bowey has never missed; four goals and no behinds in his AFL career.

Brandon Ellis didn’t miss either. He converted his set shot and it was a one point game (again). Neal-Bullen almost got it back to seven but scored a minor instead, making it a two point game and breaking the one, seven cycle.

By now both sides looked like they were in the fight of their lives. It was a continuous tackle and counter tackle fest with no one able to fully gain the upper hand.

Finally Matt Rowell had the chance to put the Suns ahead for the first time all afternoon, but his set shot from deep in the pocket was punched through for a behind. Back to one point. It looked like the third quarter would end with the smallest of gaps dividing the two sides.

Then with just over one hundred seconds remaining, Tom Sparrow kicked from the 50m arc. The ball sailed high and long, just skimming the paint work on the upright. Back to seven points. But wait! With one minute remaining, Jack Lukosius marked again on the 50m line. This time his shot went wide, and it was a one goal game.

Then, when we thought it couldn’t get any more dramatic, Ben King was awarded a free kick in front of goal right on the siren. His set shot was true, and it was all even at seventy two points apiece.

After a frantic and frenetic third quarter, the last term was going to test each side’s capabilities and resolve to the limit. This year Melbourne have played some great final quarters. They would need to produce their best to emerge victorious against a Gold Coast side now brimming with belief.

For the first five minutes, the game plan just wasn’t clicking for the Dees. Then Christian Petracca pulled one out of the hat. His round the corner kick from deep in the pocket flew high and long, bending just enough to sail through the uprights. After that there was a couple of missed opportunities, but then Max Gawn was gifted a free kick 10m from goal that stretched the lead to fourteen points.

Demon fans by now were into the fingernail biting stage. The Suns had fought back so many times in the previous two hours that another resurgence seemed highly likely. With nine minutes to go, Noah Anderson did a Kozzie and collected the ground ball before weaving around the Dees’ defence and tapping it over the line.

There was another couple of chances for Melbourne to sew it up, but they were unable to connect. Then quelle horreur! An uncharacteristic mistake in defence allowed a turnover and Malcolm Rosas to snap through the ball. The Suns now trailed by only four points.

With six minutes to go, the Dees just couldn’t get that crucial goal to seal the deal. A couple of minor scores had them up by solitary goal. Then with fifty seconds remaining, Darcy McPherson took a diving mark 40m from goal. Every Demon fan in the country was willing the defender to miss the target and he didn’t disappoint.

With fifteen seconds left on the clock, and in an eerily similar scenario to the end of Q3, Steven May kicked the ball back into play. The ball returned again but this time into the safe hands of Jack Viney where clutched the sherrin lovingly to his chest, and Melbourne supporters released a collective sigh of relief. Post match, every Melbourne player interviewed knew they had been in the fight of their season so far.

We visit the Hawks in Round 9 but don’t expect a walkover. We all know by now that there are no easy games.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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