Suns determined not to fade away in AFL

Emerging Gold Coast defender Jesse Joyce admits the Suns are fighting for AFL credibility when they host Essendon on Saturday night.

The 19-year-old grew up on the Gold Coast and describes it as a dream come true to run onto Metricon Stadium.

But he is not immune to the critics and says the week since coach Rodney Eade’s axing has been tough on the group.

“You feel like the competition is writing you off as not relevant,” he told AAP on Friday.

“We have to prove that we are, and we have to play the hard footy that we’ve probably fallen away from in recent times.”

Avoiding a second-half fade out is part of that, something the Suns were guilty of in last weekend’s 58-point loss to Brisbane.

Gold Coast held an early lead, just as they did against Richmond in round 19, only to watch it slip.

“It has been a bit of a problem for us; stopping that momentum is pretty important and it’s on us to step up in those moments,” Joyce said.

“We do have lots of young players playing big minutes and it’s a big step up from NEAFL, but other than that there’s no excuses.”

Dean Solomon was filthy with his side’s second half against Brisbane and has demanded more from them in what will be his second game in the head coach’s chair.

“It’s decision making really,” Solomon said of the team’s poor finishes.

“It’s fatigue, and our guys make poor decisions under fatigue and we’re addressing that.

“All our GPS stuff, our running stuff is the same as the opposition’s, but it’s just our mind is slower and that’s what we need to work on.”

Essendon sit one win outside the eight in what shapes as a must win in terms of the club’s finals aspirations.

There have been 12 changes in total between the two teams from the last round.

Josh Begley will debut for the Bombers, while Craig Bird and Zach Merrett have been added to the midfield.

Jobe Watson will not travel, while Gary Ablett was an early out for the Suns due to an ongoing hamstring complaint.

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