Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew has paid tribute to co-captain Jarrod Witts for refusing to allow Nic Naitanui to set up an easy centre clearance for West Coast in the dying stages of the three-point win at Metricon Stadium.
The match, and Gold Coast’s finals dreams were on the line when the Eagles reduced the deficit to three points with 38 seconds remaining. But the Suns kicked the goal from the next centre clearance and while Naitanui got his hands to the ball first, Dew said Witts set the tone for his teammates by the way he attacked that contest.
“Once they got their tails up, they were really hard to stop. In the end, we were under the pump and we lost connection,” Dew said.
“But then we were able to steady the ship with that really crucial centre bounce goal. Wittsy’s contest was massive. There was 38 seconds to go with a kick in it. I think the guys then got on the back of that and we scored a goal.”
Dew admitted it “would have been a disaster” if the Suns had lost after leading by six goals earlier in the match. But he said it was important for his young team to be able to change the momentum against an Eagles team that still has a large group of premiership stars.
Dew said there were plenty of lessons to be learnt.
“We weren’t at the hardness level, we opened the gate and they came charging through. We felt there were different times we could have controlled the tempo of the game and we bombed away,” he said.
Former Richmond forward Mabior Chol kicked a career high five goals to take his season tally to 43 majors.
The Suns recruited Chol as a free agent and he has changed their forward line in the absence of injured youngster Ben King. Dew said he’d been a revelation this year.
“We knew we were getting a guy who has been in the system at a strong footy club, who has some amazing athletic ability and is a beautiful field kick and a beautiful kick for goal. One part is about the opportunity, the rest is Mabior grabbing those opportunities,” Dew said.
“He’s got an ability to get shots at goal. Even in a game where he might be quite, he’s just one of those guys who bobs up has a couple of shots at goal.”