Seething Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch has accused his players of not “caring” after a 64-point thumping at the hands of rivals Gold Coast.
The Suns registered an easy 18.10 (118) to 7.12 (54) victory at Metricon Stadium on Saturday – their biggest ever in a QClash.
Leppitsch savaged his players for a lack of effort, even going as far to say he wanted them to follow the example set by Gold Coast’s Steven May, who will be in the crosshairs of the AFL’s match review panel for a first-quarter bump on Tom Rockliff (concussion).
Rockliff, who only made his return from a punctured lung and broken ribs last week, was stretchered off the field and sent for scans during the match to determine if there was any damage to his jaw.
Moments after suggesting May wasn’t even going for the ball, a forthright Leppitsch said: “I wouldn’t mind some of our players playing the way Steven May played, to be honest.”
“At least he actually cared and did something about their previous performances.
“Our blokes didn’t.”
Leppitsch singled out his small forwards for a complete absence of pressure inside 50, but said there was no point swinging the selection axe just to bring in even more experienced rookies.
“You just like to think you don’t have to continue to drop players to get them to play their role,” he said.
“But when you drill down to what we want to do… we’re not choosing to do it or can’t do it or whatever reason.”
Things were much brighter for the Suns, who were led by Marcus Ashcroft medallist Charlie Dixon and his equal career-best haul of six goals.
Under-fire midfielders Dion Prestia (28 possessions, seven tackles, 10 clearances) and Harley Bennell (31 possessions, two goals) were also excellent, as was Adam Saad (26 possessions).
Gold Coast were rarely troubled beyond quarter-time, kicking away across the middle two terms – during one stretched, they kicked 11 goals to Brisbane’s two.
But the Suns didn’t escape unscathed with Jarrod Garlett (ankle) set to miss up to four weeks after he was substituted out of the game in the first quarter, while Seb Tape (knee) has a suspected medial ligament strain.
The crowd of just 12,464 was also a concern, although somewhat understandable given how badly Gold Coast and Brisbane have started the season.
However, Suns coach Rodney Eade said his team was “coming through the fog” after a long week of soul-searching.
“The road we’re going to go down might be a bit rocky for a while but if you teach them the right way, with the calibre of blokes we’ve got, I think there’ll be some blue skies down the track,” he said.
“Across the board, I thought the leadership was terrific and their effort was fantastic.
“But I’ve just spoken to the players – that’s just one week. We have to have that as a baseline.”