Breakthrough wins over North Melbourne and St Kilda at Etihad Stadium has the Suns’ confidence high ahead of clashes there against Carlton and Essendon.
No longer their Melbourne graveyard, the Gold Coast Suns now see Etihad Stadium as an advantage in their tightrope walk towards the AFL finals.
Only three months ago, the young Suns were searching for a first win in their short history at the roofed venue after six straight losses.
But big breakthrough wins over North Melbourne and St Kilda at Etihad in rounds seven and nine has confidence high ahead of crucial clashes there against Carlton and Essendon in the next three weeks.
“We’re excited to get down there,” said vice-captain Tom Lynch. “Etihad suits us, we’ve played two good games down there this year.
“It’s a hard, fast deck. We manage to use our skills and pace on the outside. It’s a pretty big ground so we’re able to spread and take the game on.
“It’s up to us to go down there and play good, hard footy.”
Lynch didn’t think it mattered to the speedy Gold Coast whether Etihad’s roof was open or closed.
The ninth-placed side need to win three of their last four matches to make a maiden September appearance.
The Suns’ leading goalkicker with 37 thus far in 2014, Lynch highlighted the importance of Saturday’s match with a Blues outfit that ran Fremantle to the wire in Perth last weekend.
“If we lose this weekend, it makes (finals) extremely difficult,” the power forward said.
Lynch, who stood up as stand-in skipper by kicking four goals in their last-start 53-point home win over St Kilda, confirmed David Swallow (calf) would play and lead the side in Gary Ablett’s absence.
The result came off shock losses to Western Bulldogs and Brisbane in which they dropped their intensity and hardness at the ball.
A simple back-to-basics approach and increased physicality did the business against the Saints.
“We didn’t lose our ability overnight,” Lynch said.
“We just had two bad weeks, were in a bit of a trough, like plenty of teams have had throughout the year.
“We knew if we focused on those areas, kept it simple, we’d go well.”