AFL 2 years ago

Gaz-inspired Suns thump Kangaroos in AFL

  • Gaz-inspired Suns thump Kangaroos in AFL

The return of Gary Ablett helped spark Gold Coast to their second AFL win of the season, a 55-point home triumph on Saturday over North Melbourne.

Almost a year to the day since his 2014 season-ending shoulder injury, the superstar Suns' skipper provided a timely reminder of what his side had been missing in the 19.11 (125) to 10.10 (70) victory at Metricon Stadium.

Ablett finished with a team-high 31 disposals, but it was his sheer presence that inspired his teammates to rise to another level after a horrific week for both club and code.

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Suns coach Rodney Eade said he "didn't really know" how his players would react to the drug scandal dogging the club, which reached new heights last weekend when photos of Harley Bennell allegedly using cocaine or speed went public.

"The leadership this week's been terrific in the club," Eade said.

"The players really took control at training and control of the spirit and enthusiasm around the place.

"The character of the group is really starting to shine through."

Previously rudderless without Ablett and barely competitive in weeks gone by, it felt like a return to the Suns of old.

The dual Brownlow medallist also kicked three majors and his influence on the contest grew as the likes of best-on-ground Kade Kolodjashnij (28 disposals) and Michael Rischitelli (28) rallied around him.

Eade says the group has grown in confidence with Ablett in their midst, but believes his biggest impact comes through his disposal efficiency.

"He actually kicks it to someone when he gets it, or kicks a goal," Eade said.

"A lot of times, we work really hard but we make basic errors. Gary doesn't make those, and the good players don't."

Charlie Dixon also had a day out with a career-best seven goals, Aaron Hall chipped in with three and defender Steven May silenced North Melbourne forward Jarrod Waite.

The Suns were rarely troubled against a surprisingly lacklustre Kangaroos outfit and, at one stage, led by 29 points in a dominant first half.

Three North goals helped trim the margin back to 11 points at halftime and they appeared to have all the momentum at that stage - only for Gold Coast to fire straight back with three of their own at the start of the third term.

The Kangaroos were never a chance from then on, and the margin blew out as the Suns basked in the glory of an eight-goal final quarter.

The loss puts a massive dent in the Kangaroos' finals hopes, while Gold Coast have moved off the bottom of the ladder on percentage and past local rivals Brisbane, who face Fremantle on Sunday.

North's assistant coach Darren Crocker, steering the ship for the last time before senior coach Brad Scott's return from back surgery, admitted the result left them in a "pretty precarious" position on the ladder.

"We'd spoken at length throughout the week that Gold Coast were getting a couple of important players back into their side, which may give them an injection of energy and class," Crocker said.

"If we're going to become the team we want to become, that shouldn't have any bearing about how we go about our football."

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