Injuries to skipper Gary Ablett and Michael Rischitelli have soured Gold Coast’s 26-point AFL win over Brisbane in the Q-Clash.
The Suns were rarely troubled in the impressive 22.7 (139) to 17.11 (113) victory on Saturday but they were a man down on the bench for almost the entire match, losing veteran midfielder Rischitelli in the opening two minutes – and then Ablett, who appeared to damage his troublesome left shoulder in the final term.
Coincidentally, both players suffered the injuries while trying to tackle Brisbane’s Mitch Robinson.
Ablett had looked in good touch, collecting 18 possessions and 10 clearances – but, when Robinson shrugged his tackle early in the last quarter, he clutched for his shoulder and then went straight down to the Metricon Stadium changerooms, failing to return.
It comes two years and four days after Ablett originally hurt his shoulder against Collingwood at the same venue.
Rischitelli had been celebrating his 100th AFL game for the Suns but his career could be in jeopardy if, as suspected, the 31-year-old has injured his anterior cruciate ligament.
The incidents took the gloss off an otherwise solid night at the office for Gold Coast, who were led by a five-goal effort from vice-captain Tom Lynch and a quality shutdown job by Touk Miller on Lions skipper Tom Rockliff.
Peter Wright also kicked five goals, Dion Prestia (31 possessions) and Jack Martin (29 possessions) were excellent, while fourth-gamer Rhys Mathieson was easily Brisbane’s best with 24 touches.
The two sides traded blows early, but a stretch of six unanswered goals across the first and second quarters gave the Suns a comfortable buffer they were able to retain for most of the match.
The Lions did give Gold Coast a scare in the third term, whittling down the margin from a game-high 50 points to just 24 by the final break.
But the Suns were able to hold their nerve and comfortably book back-to-back wins, dealing Brisbane their 11th consecutive defeat in the process.