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Suns relish prime-time footy, but the Dogs come out on top

Alex Sexton keeps the Suns in the hunt.

Alex Sexton keeps the Suns in the hunt.Credit:Matt Roberts/AFL Photos

Izak Rankine, in his third game of footy, kicked four behinds during that period while mainly playing on the Dogs’ premiership captain Easton Wood.

He leapt and marked, ran and shot, pinged at the goals on his left from the boundary and snapped at the big sticks but couldn’t find the accuracy his side needed.

As good as the Suns were at locking the Bulldogs in their back half, the Dogs defended desperately and that’s what they’ll take from this game.

Wood, Alex Keath and Hayden Crozier led the way in that respect and the captain, Marcus Bontempelli, filled the hole late by taking a strong mark on defensive 50 as the Suns launched one final attack.

Alex Sexton exchanges words with Caleb Daniel.

Alex Sexton exchanges words with Caleb Daniel.Credit:Matt Roberts/AFL Photos

The Gold Coast will take plenty from this game – namely about composure going inside 50. Sure the conditions were wet but they bombed it forward a little too freely in the final term instead of lowering their eyes and hitting a lead, although doing so sounds easier than it looks.

Suns captain Jarrod Witts was excellent. He came up against Tim English – who had the best game of his career last week against Essendon’s Andrew Phillips – but the considerable step-up in class to Witts was a reminder there was work still to be done.

Despite that the Bulldogs midfield were still good enough not to be battered and read Witts’ cues, even though Witts was wiley enough to follow the nimble English around the ground and blunt his indluence as an extra midfielder.

The game was a battle between two contrasting styles with the Suns’ pressure game and territory drive from the stoppage up against the Bulldogs’ more intricate handball chain attack.

Luke Beveridge’s side might have been smart to quell their heavy handball sensitivities against the Suns, given Dew’s side were the No.1 pressure outfit in the AFL coming into the match.

However, neither style really clearly worked for longer through the match and it was from this base that the arm wrestle ensued.

PRIME-TIME SUNS

The Gold Coast Suns took to prime time like an enthusiastic contestant in a reality television cooking competition. That is to say, very, very well.

They looked at home under lights with exciting flashes from Rankine, precision kicking by Noah Anderson and the forward smarts and buzz of Alex Sexton.

Touk Miller was a key cog in the Suns’ game with his dash through the middle, ball use and pressure – particularly two tackles on Bontempelli – were impressive.

And while there were periods of the game when scoring was tough this did not detract from the spectacle. The Suns play to attack and very rarely fold back to the safety of keepings off.

They’ll get two more chances in marquee timeslots in the next run of games; Thursday, August 6 against St Kilda at Metricon Stadium and then Monday, August 17 against Richmond at the Gabba.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.3 3.6 5.8 7.9 (51)
GOLD COAST 2.1 3.4 5.6 6.10 (46)

GOALS Western Bulldogs: Johannisen, Young, Lipinski, Wallis, Liberatore, Smith, Richards.
Gold Coast: Sexton 3, Ellis, Rankine, Ainsworth.

BEST Western Bulldogs: Daniel, Smith, Keath, Liberatore, Johannisen, Crozier, Bontempelli, Macrae.
Gold Coast: Sexton, Swallow, Miller, Ballard, Greenwood, Witts.

UMPIRES Brown, Hosking, Findlay.
CROWD 4039 at Metricon Stadium.

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