They’ve been in Brisbane’s shadow for most of their AFL existence so Gold Coast want to use Saturday’s derby to confirm they’re now Queensland’s No.1 team.
Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna wants his team to prove they are the AFL’s top dog in Queensland this Saturday.
The Suns have a chance to claim bragging rights over Brisbane for the first time since their inaugural season in 2011 after winning this season’s opening QClash by 53 points.
With Gold Coast chasing a historic finals spot as a young Lions team struggles to stay away from the competition basement, McKenna is keen for his team to confirm they’re the state’s No.1 team.
The Suns’ victory over the Lions in round three was their first in six attempts against the Lions and with the rise of the expansion club a genuine hostility is starting to emerge from what was previously a more manufactured rivalry.
“There’s a fair bit been said this week,” McKenna said.
“I wouldn’t call it spiteful talk, it’s just talk about the recent results and our record’s not flash in those. We won the first and won the last but in between, Brisbane has certainly owned the QClash.
“Form-lines are irrelevant, but everyone wants to be top dog in Queensland.
“We can talk as much as we like, but it’s the actions on Saturday afternoon that will decide who wins or loses.”
The Suns have made two changes to their team for the short trip north with Luke Russell and Clay Cameron coming in for Trent McKenzie and Kade Kolodjashnij (both hamstring).
Midfielder Dion Prestia will captain the team in the continued absence of influential skipper Gary Ablett, who played a starring role in the derby win early this year.
McKenna says with Ablett sidelined for the remainder of the year his team just needs to move on when it comes to how they can perform without the dual Brownlow Medallist.
“We think our depth and our playing list has matured significantly over four seasons,” McKenna said.
“We’ve only had six opportunities without him not playing, so it’s not a lot of data.
“It’s just one of those things. It’s a good opportunity this week.”
The Lions have also made two changes with Tom Rockliff and Jack Crisp into the team in place of injured Mitch Golby (foot) and Marco Paparone who has been omitted.
FIVE MEMORABLE QCLASH MOMENTS:
SUNS BURN BIG BROTHER
The unfancied Suns did their bit to ensure the QClash would become a genuine AFL derby by beating Brisbane by eight points at the Gabba no less in the first meeting of the teams in round seven, 2011.
Brisbane great Jonathan Brown became just the fourth player in Lions’ history to kick 500 AFL goals with the second of three goals in the Lions’ 65-point win in round four, 2012.
Some late magic from Irishman Pearce Hanley extended the Lions’ winning run over their southern neighbours to four straight in 2013. With the Suns’ storming home at Metricon Stadium in the round three clash, Hanley scored his only goal of the game with three minutes to go to help seal a thrilling two-point win.
LEUENBERGER STANDS TALL
The Suns were again threatening to end the Lions’ run of QClash wins in the second derby clash of the 2013 campaign when Brisbane ruckman Matthew Leuenberger took control. The tall earned the Marcus Ashcroft medal as best on ground with 20 disposals, 29 hitouts, seven tackles, seven clearances and seven inside 50s as the Lions won by 33 points.
SUNS RISE AGAIN
After three years and six straight losses, Gold Coast snapped their QClash hoodoo in style earlier this year at Metricon Stadium. The Suns romped to a 53-point win with skipper Gary Ablett’s 38 disposals, 10 tackles and three goals easily enough for him to become the first two-time winner of the Marcus Ashcroft medal.