Thrilling matches, tense finals, huge marks and a series of unforgettable storylines made the 2019 AFL season one to remember.
The evenness of the AFL’s top bracket of sides was shown by the fact just one win separated Geelong, who finished first, and the fifth-placed West Coast, while Greater Western Sydney went from sixth to reach the grand final after a stunning September run.
It was Richmond who would ultimately win the premiership, their second in three years, Damien Hardwick’s side finishing the season full of momentum.
A new campaign brings fresh hope for all 18 clubs, though, and our 2019 season reviews take a look at what went right, what went wrong, each side’s best players and how every club can improve.
The next team in the spotlight is Gold Coast Suns.
- Ladder position: 18th
- Win-loss ratio: 3-19
- Percentage: 60.5
Gold Coast Suns AFL 2019 Season Performance Review
The Suns made a bright start to the 2019 season, following up a one-point loss to St Kilda with three successive victories. All of their wins were decided by under a goal, too, but the Suns reverted to type from that point and lost their next 18 matches to finish on the bottom of the ladder. They were competitive in many of those losses but a Round 16 defeat to Richmond was a turning point, the Suns losing that match by 92 points. The Suns lost six of their last eight matches by 69 points or more, meaning there is still major work to do to get Gold Coast competitive on a regular basis.
A five-point win over the Western Bulldogs in Round 3 was particularly memorable for the fact it came at Docklands. The Suns do not have a great road record but they came to play, booting six goals to two in the first quarter to take a four-goal lead at the first change. The Bulldogs pushed hard from that point and the Suns could easily have faded, but they held on for a thrilling win that suggested Gold Coast was set to have a much-improved season. Brayden Fiorini was one of five Suns to win 23 disposals or more and impressive youngster Darcy Macpherson kicked two goals as the Suns celebrated a rare Melbourne win.
Of the many heavy defeats suffered by the Suns, perhaps the hardest to take for supporters was a 91-point loss to Queensland rivals Brisbane in the Round 21 Q-Clash. The Lions were flying at the time and would go on to reach the semi-finals, so they were always expected to beat the struggling Suns. But the manner of Gold Coast’s defeat would have disappointed coach Stuart Dew, with the game essentially over by half time when Brisbane led by 38 points. A seven-goal-to-none third term only made things worse and Brisbane finished with 22 goals, Charlie Cameron leading the way with six. Just five Suns players kicked goals on a night where David Swallow was the only Gold Coast player to win more than 22 disposals.
The best and fairest
Suns co-captain Jarrod Witts was a comfortable winner of Gold Coast’s best and fairest award, the ruckman taking the lead in Round 7 and never being headed from there. Witts finished well ahead of second-placed David Swallow, also a co-captain. Witts led the AFL in hit outs in 2019 during the home and away season, winning 1008 at an average of 45.82 per match. Macpherson caught the eye in 2019 and he was third in the internal Gold Coast award, with Jarrod Harbrow fourth and Fiorini fifth.
Despite Witts’ terrific year in the ruck, he won just one vote in the 2019 Brownlow Medal. Swallow was the Sun to win the most votes, getting seven in a tie for 53rd, while Jack Martin and Touk Miller polled five votes each. Martin has since moved to Carlton.
No Suns were named in the 40-man provisional squad and, frankly, Gold Coast have bigger priorities at the moment.
The goal kickers
Medium-sized forward Alex Sexton enjoyed an excellent year in front of goal, the 26-year-old kicking 39.29, following on from a 28-goal haul in 2018. Sexton can be very pleased with his effort given the Suns were beaten most weeks. Peter Wright was next best with 21 goals in 17 games, while young star Ben King kicked 17 from 14 matches and looks a very bright prospect.
The reason to be hopeful
As bad as they were at times in 2019, the Suns still have plenty of extremely talented young players on their list who are likely to improve as each year progresses. King is just one of them, with the likes of Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine and Ben Ainsworth sure to benefit from another year in the system. The Suns added Brandon Ellis, Hugh Greenwood and Zac Smith in the trade period and they then went and selected Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson with picks one and two in the 2019 AFL Draft. The plethora of young talent on Gold Coast’s list means fans can remain hopeful.