Gold Coast have all but killed off Richmond’s finals aspirations and won over AFL fans in north Queensland with an upset 15-point victory at Cazaly Stadium.
The Suns trailed by six goals at the first change, yet held their composure to rally for a stirring 12.13 (85) to 9.16 (70) win in front of a sellout 10,832 crowd.
The Suns’ third victory lifts them off the bottom of the ladder and puts them in the right frame of mind to take on the competition’s benchmark Collingwood next Saturday night at Metricon Stadium.
Richmond kicked six goals in the opening term with a howling wind at their backs and managed only three majors for the rest of the game.
They struggled to come to terms with the conditions, fumbling the ball, making basic skill errors and were left befuddled when the Suns kicked six goals in the second term.
The Tigers were also guilty of playing an indoor style in outdoor conditions.
Instead of pumping the ball long and running hard with the wind at their backs, they seemed more intent on retaining possession at times and switching play with a number of short kicks across the last line of defence.
It’s the style of play you would expect under the roof at Etihad Stadium but not when you are kicking with the aid of a five to six goal breeze and need to amass a lead.
The telling point in the match was after halftime when Richmond kicked a miserable two goals in the third quarter and held only a 13-point lead at the last change.
Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna said the third quarter was pivotal to the outcome and particularly noted the work of defenders Nathan Bock, Campbell Brown and rookie Rory Thompson.
“They kicked 2.7 and we kicked 5.4 in the last quarter and that was probably the difference in the end,” McKenna said.
“It gives us a little confidence that we can play a style of football that can actually win games.”
Bock worked tirelessly to restrict Richmond’s gun forward Jack Riewoldt to one goal and Brown and Thompson kept Tyrone Vickery and Ben Griffiths in check.
Suns’ skipper Gary Ablett and his young offsider David Swallow led the fightback in the midfield and veteran ruckman Josh Fraser was a key factor in several goals.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick acknowledged his side neither used the wind enough to their advantage and their forwards struggled with both the elements and the Suns’ tight defence.
“We were kicking with a fair wind and we went in with a wind to combat that and it didn’t work out,” Hardwick said.
“The windy conditions made it difficult because anytime you got within 60 or 70 metres it was a shot on goal.
“We didn’t move the ball the way we wanted to in that second quarter and it cost us a couple of goals.
“We needed to kick seven goals in the third quarter, we really needed to kick 7.2 to take control of the game and it didn’t happen.”
It’s the second interstate “home” match this year the Tigers have lost after defeat in May to Port Adelaide in Darwin.
Their decision to transfer home matches for financial reasons will not sit well with their supporters.