Greater Western Sydney’s remarkable bid for an AFL top-two finish is poised to take another step closer to reality against an injury-ravaged Gold Coast on Saturday.
The contrast between the two expansion clubs couldn’t be more stark heading into the round-20 clash at Metricon Stadium.
The Suns sit 14th on the ladder after another season wrecked by injury woes while the Giants are behind only Hawthorn after a run of six wins in their past seven matches.
No team has a greater percentage (142) than the Giants, while only Adelaide (1984) have scored more points than Leon Cameron’s men (1963) in 2016.
The Suns suffered a further injury setback in the build-up to the match with veteran defender Nick Malceski (knee) and midfielder Jesse Lonergan (shoulder) ruled out.
The pair join an injury list that boasts 11 senior players including club captain Gary Ablett and midfield stars Jaeger O’Meara, David Swallow and Dion Prestia.
One player who is still fit and firing for the Suns is key forward Tom Lynch, described by AFL great Jonathan Brown earlier this week as the best player in the game.
Giants defender Adam Tomlinson says Lynch, who has kicked 57 goals this year to sit third in the Coleman Medal race, is definitely one threat the visitors need to neutralise.
“They’ve got three big boys up in their forward line in (Peter) Wright, (Sam) Day and Tom Lynch, who is probably one of the best players to come around,” Tomlinson said.
“They’ve got some new faces in their midfield, but if they get the ball forward they can do a lot of damage.”
The Suns have included Sean Lemmens and Mitch Hallahan to replace Malceski and Lonergan.
Suns coach Rodney Eade says with so many of his running midfield options sidelined, he has little option but to try and slow the game down.
“I don’t think we can have a shootout (with) their ability to score on the counter attack and score on turnover and they’re very quick,” he said.
“If we have a shootout and it’s quick both ways, it’d suit them, so we’ll have to have some measures at times.”
The Giants have made two changes from the team that thrashed Richmond last weekend with Adam Kennedy omitted and Dylan Shiel ruled out with a groin injury. Nick Haynes and Lachie Whitfield will replace them.