Match preview: Gold Coast v North Melbourne
Stuart Dew will be relishing his first senior game as Suns coach
Both teams finished in the bottom four last season, so this presents the perfect opportunity for both to get 2018 off to a winning start. While North Melbourne decided to show faith in coach Brad Scott at the end of last season by extending his contract, the Suns went in a totally new direction, hiring Stuart Dew to replace Rodney Eade as coach, Jon Haines to come in as football manager and Craig Cameron as list manager. In their two JLT Community Series wins, the Suns showed a willingness to pressure and work hard in both directions, something they’ll have to do to beat the Kangaroos. Scott’s men are strong-bodied, particularly in the midfield, and despite finishing low down last year, showed they were no easybeats. It’s only worth four points, but the winner of this match will feel like five months of pre-season has been validated.
WHERE AND WHEN: Cazaly’s Stadium (Cairns), Saturday, March 24, 6.25pm AEST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
R15, 2017, Gold Coast 18.10 (118) d North Melbourne 14.15 (99) at Metricon Stadium
R6, 2017, North Melbourne 16.11 (107) d Gold Coast 14.10 (94) at Etihad Stadium
R5, 2016, North Melbourne 18.11 (119) d Gold Coast 11.15 (81) at Metricon Stadium
R14, 2015, Gold Coast 19.11 (125) d North Melbourne 10.10 (70) at Metricon Stadium
R7, 2014, Gold Coast 18.12 (120) d North Melbourne 11.11 (77) at Etihad Stadium
THE SIX POINTS
1. Jarryd Lyons starred with 39 disposals and Tom Lynch kicked five goals when the Suns won the most recent contest. Gold Coast led by 33 points at half-time and maintained the margin until the end.
2. The Suns were the worst tackling team in 2017, ranked 18thwith 62 a game. North Melbourne was mid-table, laying 70 tackles each game.
3. Gold Coast holds a narrow advantage in head-to-head matches recently, winning three of the past five. However, they have won just twice from seven visits to Cairns, while the Kangaroos have never played at Cazaly’s.
4. The Suns are one of the freest flowing teams when they get going. In 2017 no team had more running bounces during the home and away season with 10 a game, although this will plummet this year with the departure of Adam Saad, who led the league with 93, to Essendon.
5. North Melbourne finished 2017 poorly. The Kangaroos won four of their first 10 games – and lost three by less than a goal – but saluted just twice in the final 12 weeks.
6. Not only did Lyons torch the Kangaroos the last time the teams met, he had a terrific 2017 overall. The inside midfielder jumped from 135th to 32nd overall in the Official Player Ratings.
IT’S A BIG WEEK FOR …
After premierships as a player with Port Adelaide and Hawthorn and seven seasons as an assistant coach at Sydney, Stuart Dew gets his first crack at a senior coaching role. The former defender is just 38 years old and has a reputation for possessing an astute mind made for the modern game. There’s no pressure on Dew this season, but he’d love to get going with a win.
PREDICTION: Gold Coast by 13 points.