Jack Steven and St Kilda celebrate after the final siren.
Jack Steven and St Kilda celebrate after the final siren.

Suns heartbreak in AFL opener

GOLD Coast have fallen just shy of completing a perfect start to the AFL season, losing to St Kilda by a point in Melbourne.

A brave Gold Coast outfit hampered by knee injuries to David Swallow and Ben Ainsworth, lost 13.7 (85) to 13.6 (84) on a hot day at Marvel Stadium.

It's been 652 days since both Queensland clubs Brisbane and Gold Coast won in the same premiership round, with the drought going back to Round 12 in 2017, and it looked finally set to end.

St Kilda kicked the first goal of the game but from there Gold Coast gained the ascension through their dominance out of the middle.

Gold Coast's ability to win the clearance and put St Kilda under pressure in their defensive 50m led to their early success while key forward Peter Wright provided a highlight by snapping a goal while falling on a tight angle in the pocket.

Touk Miller of the Suns cleans up Jack Steven of the Saints 4th qtr . Pic: Michael Klein.
Touk Miller of the Suns cleans up Jack Steven of the Saints 4th qtr . Pic: Michael Klein.

Ainsworth limped from the field in the final minutes of the term with a knee injury to his right leg but returned early in the second with heavy strapping.

Suns co-captain Swallow was restricted to the forward line from the first quarter after also suffering a knee injury, putting pressure on Gold Coast's rotations on a hot day in Melbourne.

It also meant Gold Coast's ability to lock the ball in their forward 50m fell away with the lack of leg speed and St Kilda took advantage up the ground as Gold Coast hung on to trail by 13 points at halftime.

Both sides traded blows as the game opened up in the third term with St Kilda matching Gold Coast in the middle of the ground as they hung on to a 12 point lead going into the fourth.

Gold Coast gave up a 31 point third quarter lead in Round 13 last year against St Kilda but despite trailing and being hampered by injury, found a way to stay in the contest on Saturday.

Ainsworth and Swallow's courage to press on in order to reduce the pressure on rotations was reflected across the ground.

The Suns regained the lead with 10 minutes left through Swallow, the first time they hit the front since halfway through the second quarter, and then again through Wil Powell with six minutes when St Kilda responded.

A behind to St Kilda's Jack Lonie proved to be the difference and despite Gold Coast pressing hard in the dying stages, the Suns couldn't find the goals.

Gold Coast will return home to Metricon Stadium to play Fremantle in Round 2 next weekend.

News Corp Australia


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