A tale of two clubs in Queensland
THERE was so much to like about the inaugural QClash between the Gold Coast Suns and Brisbane Lions on Saturday night.
Unfortunately for the Lions, most of the positives to arise from the game centred around the Suns, who managed to chalk up win number two.
To have notched two wins from six games is a superb effort from the Suns. To give you some perspective, they have a better record than last year's grand finalists the Saints and the same record as the Bulldogs, although the latter does have a far better percentage.
I expected the Suns to win only two games this season at best, and it's quite possible they won't win another game this season.
I certainly expect the Crows, beaten so soundly by the Demons on Sunday, to belt them this weekend.
But that is beside the point.
The fact is this club is going places faster than expected.
Forget five-year plans, the Suns have the makings of a finals team within two years. No other club in the competition has anywhere near the same number of talented teenagers.
There are literally too many of them to mention in this space, but Zac Smith, Brandon Matera and David Swallow already look comfortable at the top level and will be stars of the game as early as next season.
My prediction is the Suns will use the abundance of young talent at their disposal to trade for some stronger bodies for next season. I am talking about the guys who won't play much this season but are considered definite future AFL players.
You add a couple of seasoned AFL players to this list and they will not be pushovers next season. Mark my words.
But back to the Lions, and let's start with the coach, Michael Voss.
It's almost impossible to see how he will be at the helm next year. I don't think he will be.
Voss has taken a club that finished sixth in 2009 (winning a final), with an exciting young list, to the bottom of the table in the space of one season.
The fact Voss is a first-time AFL coach with no coaching experience, even as an assistant, is beginning to tell.
He still opted to take over every aspect of the football department despite his greenness in what is a very tough job.
You get the feeling James Hird learnt from Voss's mistakes and took the opposite approach at the Bombers, surrounding himself with experienced, quality people. The results speak for themselves.
Yes, the Lions have been competitive in games this season, and they do have some promising young players like Jack Redden beginning to emerge, but the football department is a mess, and the buck stops with Voss.
The reality is Voss is a legend of the club – as a player. He is revered by the Lions' supporters and administrators. Sacking him would be a last resort. On the club's current path it might be the only option.
However, I predict Voss will step aside of his own accord at season's end to avoid the ignominy of being shown the door.
I AM really looking forward to tonight's showdown between unbeaten teams Collingwood and Geelong.
And while most pundits think the 'Pies will win, I reckon Geelong is ready to get them.
Collingwood will probably drop only one or two games in the home and away season, but on form I just think the Cats are going a little better at the moment.
The 'Pies got themselves into trouble against the Bulldogs two weeks ago, before kicking away in the final 20 minutes. The Cats will not be as forgiving.
Geelong seems rejuvenated under coach Chris Scott, and at the moment appears the only team capable of troubling the reigning premier.
In truth it's hard to know where Collingwood is at. It has done what's required to win so far this season, but has not strung together four quarters.
We'll know more about both teams after tonight.
FINALLY, the Grafton Tigers' perfect start to the North Coast AFL season cannot go without mention.
The Tigers have started the season with two impressive wins, both of which came on the road.
Last weekend they won in Port Macquarie. That's right, Port Macquarie. That just doesn't happen.
Followers of the game locally would know the Tigers have never played well away from home and have always struggled to get players to travel.
From all reports there are plenty of numbers at training, which has always been an issue for the club, and there is a good feeling among the playing group.
New coach Adi Campbell is doing a superb job.
Sawtell looms as a big test tomorrow at JJ Lawrence Oval, South Grafton.
Win this one, and we'll know the Tigers are the real deal in 2011.