Suns brace for barrage from Swans
WHILE already bearing the brunt of Queensland's wet weather, the Gold Coast Suns are now bracing for an approaching storm in the form of the Sydney Swans.
The Suns have been trying to batten down the hatches by including a host of first-choice players from injury including Matt Rosa, Touk Miller, Alex Sexton, Callum Ah Chee and Kade Kolodjashnij, while Jesse Joyce comes in for his first game.
They are not the ones the Suns would dearly love out there tonight at Metricon Stadium. Gun midfielders Jaeger O'Meara and David Swallow and key defenders Rory Thompson and Trent McKenzie, who will both return this week through the NEAFL, would be preferred.
But it is a start, says Suns coach Rodney Eade.
"We're heading in the right direction," he told reporters yesterday. "We'll get a few more back next week - hopefully by the bye (in two weeks' time) we're just about at full strength."
The Swans, on the other hand, have made no changes, and why would they after dishing out a first defeat to ladder-leader North Melbourne and now sitting second at 8-2 and flag favourite with most bookmakers.
The conditions may also help the Swans, who thrive in wet weather.
As it stands, they are No.1 for contested disposals while the Suns sit a distant 17th in that area.
More heavy rain is forecast for south-east Queensland this afternoon.
While Eade believes poor conditions usually exacerbate the difference in teams' skills, and do not level the playing field, he hopes that's not the case today.
"Sydney are as good as any team at the contest and at putting pressure on. They're bigger bodies and very good at that, which will be a great challenge for us," Eade said.
"(But) our last two weeks have been really pleasing in that area and we've just got to match them."
The Suns have lost their last seven games and last four by an average 87 points, but Eade is remaining optimistic.
"We went through the review (of last week's 72-point loss to West Coast) fairly forensically," Eade said.
"We started to move the ball with the right methods but then there was some breakdowns.
"The breakdowns will improve as we go on. I think there is enough, from what I've seen, (to suggest) we can this around pretty quickly."
The Suns have not beaten the Swans in six attempts, losing by an average 55 points.
Stoppage specialists Josh Kennedy (31 disposals, two goals) and Tom Mitchell (36 touches, 12 tackles) and Dan Hannebery (32 possessions, nine clearances) dominated in their round-23 encounter last season.
Mitchell may get a direct match-up with Suns skipper Gary Ablett after blanketing Hawk superstar Sam Mitchell recently.
Of course the other big danger for the Suns is Lance Franklin, who will be playing his 50th game for the Swans. The current Coleman Medal leader was kept quiet last time (one goal) and Suns fullback Steve May will look to do a similar job this time around.