Suns Search For First Win In The West

Image courtesy of news.com.au/Adam Head/Gold Coast Bulletin
Charlie Dixon has been effective in the ruck and up forward this year. Image courtesy of news.com.au/Adam Head/Gold Coast Bulletin
Last Two Matches

Round 14, 2012 – West Coat 166 d Gold Coast 40 at Patersons Stadium
Round 11, 2011 – West Coast 85 d Gold Coast 67 at Patersons Stadium


Form

     Rd 14       Rd 15       Rd 16       Rd 17       Rd 18   
West Coast    L  W  L  L  L
Gold Coast   L  L  L  W  L

Three non-Victorian teams said goodbye to their finals hopes last weekend, and West Coast was one of them (along with Adelaide and Brisbane). With a stack of stars out, the Eagles couldn’t keep up with the improving Bulldogs going down by 22 points . It was the club’s third loss in a row, and with a nightmare draw to finish the season, the Eagles will be playing for pride in the coming month.

One side which can be justifiably proud of its efforts this season is Gold Coast . The Suns were never far away from Carlton last weekend, but Guy McKenna’s team couldn’t produce the magic which saw them beat Collingwood the week before, falling away in the final quarter to go down by 43 points .

The Suns regain key defender Rory Thompson, talented young midfielders Dion Prestia and David Swallow, as well as ruckman Daniel Gorringe who replaces in-form tap man Tom Nicholls. West has lost ball-winner Chris Masten to an ankle injury, although Darren Glass and Andrew Embley return to the side.


Key Men

(Eagles) Josh Hill – Gold Coast is pretty well served for key defenders at the moment, but the Suns struggle against speedy small forwards. Carlton’s triumvirate of Eddie Betts, Chris Yarran and Jeff Garlett kicked six against them last week, and that total would have been greater if the latter hadn’t posted four behinds. Josh Hill is the main danger this week; he kicked three goals from just eight possessions against the ‘Doggies. He hasn’t been quite as prolific as season 2012, but he remains one of the better small forwards going around.

(Suns) Charlie Dixon – Last week’s game against Carlton was an ideal time for Charlie Dixon to make his long-awaited return to the Suns’ line-up. He took a couple of strong marks early in the game and had two goals but moved in to the ruck when in-form tap man Tom Nicholls went down with a knee injury. He has been amongst the Suns’ best in five of the eight games he has played this season so if they can keep him on the field, there are still a few games genuinely up for grabs towards the end of the season.


Prediction

West Coast won the corresponding fixture in round 14 last season by 126 points . You can be sure the margin will be far tighter this time around, and the Suns should be in with a big show of pulling off their first win in the west. Gold Coast has plenty of pace all over the ground, which should suit them on the wide expanses of Patersons Stadium. They’ve had two straight matches at home, so it’s an ideal time to be making the trip across the Nullabor. At their best, the Suns are a better team than the Bulldogs who accounted for the Eagles on Sunday. West Coast is 2-7 at Subiaco this season, which is an extraordinarily poor return for a team which made the ground a fortress the past couple of seasons. Edward Curnow did a good shutdown job on Gary Ablett Jnr last week; Scott Selwood is a far superior tagger and brilliant at winning his own ball, also, so he may go head to head with the competition’s best player. Both teams have extensive injury lists, and despite the Eagles’ mid-table position, this would be one of the Suns’ biggest wins if they could pull it off. West Coast by 18 points .

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