By JESS WEBSTER
Gold Coast returned to finals action last year, but took it a step further in 2017 with their best ever finish to a NEAFL season.
Here is the Suns’ season in review.
By the Numbers
Ladder position: 4th
Last year: 6th
2017 NEAFL Player of the Year Award
Top 5 NEAFL MVP votes
63: Mitch Hallahan (fifth overall)
43: Darcy Macpherson (eighth overall)
26: Will Brodie
24: Ryan Davis
19: Dan Currie
Snapshot: In-and-out of the top six for the first half of the season, Gold Coast made a late run in the backend of the year to secure a home Elimination Final. After overrunning NT Thunder, they were dominated by Sydney in the Preliminary Final, but will walk away from 2017 having recorded their best finish to a NEAFL season, with three players in the NEAFL Team of the Year and two (Mitch Hallahan and Darcy Macpherson) recording top 10 finishes in the NEAFL MVP voting.
Highlight: Gold Coast provided and early-season indication of their potential when the Suns took on Aspley at Brendale in Brisbane’s north. The margin never grew beyond 13 points in the first half as the two sides traded blows in an entertaining affair, which included a Goal of the Year contender from Trent McKenzie. Scores were level at the last break, and it was the Suns – led by McKenzie (33 disposals, seven rebound 50s), Josh Schoenfeld (31 disposals) and Callum Ah Chee – who withstood Aspley’s charge to win a thriller by 14 points.
Lowlight: The Suns went into their Round 15 clash against ladder leaders Sydney evenly matches, with 15 AFL-listed players against the Swans’ 16. But despite having a good side on paper, the Suns were outplayed on the field as Sydney ran amok on their home turf in a disappointing performance from Gold Coast. They were never in the contest, conceding six goals to one in the first term to eventually go down by 107 points.
Star Power: Mitch Hallahan was right in NEAFL MVP contention this year until he was elevated to the AFL side in the final round. His class and composure was on full display this season with an average of 30 disposals per game, and Hallahan was also ranked fourth in the competition for inside 50s and second in clearances. Defender Ryan Davis and Darcy Macpherson – whose sublime NEAFL form earned him more time at AFL level in 2017 – were the top contributor in 2017.
Next Generation: Gold Coast’s academy program was one of the big positives this year as the quality of players coming through the ranks showed at NEAFL level. Brayden Crossley won the club’s academy player of the year award and made U18 All Australian honours. Jacob Dawson earned a NEAFL rising Star nomination, and fellow Allies squad members Caleb Graham, Bailey Scott, Sam Davidson, Timakoi Bowie, and Kwaby Boakye all gained more experience in the NEAFL.
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