Suns Challenge Knows No Bounds

Image courtesy of news.com.au/Adam Head/Gold Coast Bulletin
Charlie Dixon makes a welcome return from injury for the Suns. Image courtesy of news.com.au/Adam Head/Gold Coast Bulletin
Last Three Meetings

Round 12, 2012 – North Melbourne 87 d Gold Coast 80 at Metricon
Round 5 2012 – North Melbourne 127 d Gold Coast 93 at Etihad Stadium
Round 12, 2011 – North Melbourne 122 d Gold Coast 63 at Metricon Stadium


Form

     Rd 6       Rd 7       Rd 8       Rd 9       Rd 10   
Gold Coast   L  W  W  L  L
North Melbourne   W  W  L  L  W

The Suns have taken on the top two teams on the ladder the past fortnight in Victoria and Guy McKenna’s side passed the test with flying colours. A 26-point loss to Hawthorn was followed up by a 123-71 defeat by Geelong, but those scores masked just how close those contests were for the majority of the time. In particular, the injury-ravaged Suns were locked together with the Cats at three-quarter time, only to run out of energy and troops in the final term.

After a two-point loss to West Coast and a drama-filled one-point defeat at the hands of Adelaide, North Melbourne made sure of the four points early on against St Kilda last week. The ‘Roos were up 61-6 at the first break and cantered to a 68-point win . Their performances at Etihad Stadium have been very good this year, but their interstate record isn’t so great, having won just three of their last 11 outside the Garden State.

Suns goalsneak Brandon Matera will miss this match after injuring his ankle against the Cats, while Kyal Horsley and Daniel Gorringe have been omitted. After dominating last week in the VFL, Majak Daw makes a speedy return to the Roos’ top side, coming in for Will Sierakowski.


Key Men

(Suns) Dion Prestia – Fairly or unfairly, Dion Prestia was probably most well known to football followers for his stocky frame over his first two seasons in the league. Not anymore. The 20-year-old has consistently been amongst the Suns’ best this season averaging 24 touches and five tackles per game. He was superb against the Cats last week collecting 29 disposals and laying 12 tackles, and that came a week after a 32-possession game against the Hawks. He has been an animal at stoppages of late averaging six per game over the past month.

(Kangaroos) Aaron Black – Since coming back in to the team in round 5 against Hawthorn, Aaron Black has proved to be a handy foil for Drew Petrie , and another target who can bring the ball to ground for smart small forward Lindsay Thomas. He got amongst the goals, himself, last week booting five against St Kilda. He has 15 goals in six games and has twice taken seven marks in a match, which are good numbers for a player who had made just four appearances prior to this season. With Suns backman Rory Thompson in stellar form, a second marking option in the forward line will be crucial for North.


Prediction

When the Kangaroos have won this season, they’ve won big. Apart from a 10-point win over Port Adelaide, North Melbourne’s other victories have come by 68, 54 and 63 points. When Brad Scott’s team is on, it’s on, and their speed and quick ball movement can be hard for sluggish teams to stop. Gold Coast is one side which has plenty of pace across the ground, and as they showed last week, they have desperation to match their speed. Again, the big question is whether they can keep that level of intensity up against a worthy opponent for four quarters. The ‘Roos scoring potential was on full display last week, and it will only take one lacklustre period from the home side and the game could be over. Kangaroos by 18 points

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