Suns get rocket despite win over Bombers

His team had just won their opening match of the AFL season by 10 goals, but you wouldn’t know it from Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade’s reaction.

The Suns completed a comfortable 61-point win over Essendon at Metricon Stadium on Saturday but Eade cut a frustrated figure after the siren.

With the Bombers decimated by the season-long doping bans to 12 of their senior players and fielding a team with 10 players who’d never featured for the club, Eade clearly expected more than the 17.19 (121) to 9.6 (60) scoreline.

Eade accused his players of getting comfortable after a five-goal-to-one opening term, choosing cruise control rather than full throttle against the patchwork Bombers.

“We mucked around with the ball a bit,” Eade said.

“We started to play Twenty20 footy a bit. I don’t think we did the basics exceptionally well, turned the ball over when we shouldn’t have.

“We got comfortable and that was disappointing.”

Suns forward Tom Lynch booted a game-high four goals for the hosts, but will face a nervous wait after appearing to collect Bomber Mark Baguley high in the second quarter.

Captain Gary Ablett was best on ground despite not playing a second of footy in the Suns’ pre-season, the two-time Brownlow Medallist picking up 32 disposals, seven tackles and a goal.

Vastly improved midfielder Aaron Hall, one of the Suns’ best performers at the back end of last season, continued his fine form with a game-high 36 disposals and two goals.

For the Bombers, David Zaharakis was easily their best player.

One of the few Essendon players to avoid WADA sanctions, Zaharakis led from the front with 33 disposals and two goals.

Matthew Stokes, one of the five top-up players making their debut for the Dons, bounced back from missing an easy goal opportunity in the third term to finish with three majors.

With Essendon favourites to pick up a first wooden spoon since 1933, coach John Worsfold was emphasising the positives from the display.

“It was a pretty tough day,” Worsfold said.

“I liked some of the signs we’ve seen. When you look through the rustiness and some of the unsurety there’s some good stuff there but, yeah, plenty to work on.”

The Suns face a tough trip to Perth next weekend to take on Fremantle while Essendon will host Melbourne at the MCG.

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