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Heartbreak for NEAFL GIANTS

Tim Mohr was one of the NEAFL GIANTS' best performers in a two point loss to the Suns on Saturday.

The NEAFL GIANTS have lost a thrilling match to the Gold Coast Suns, with two goals in the final minutes of the game sealing a desperate 10.10 (70) to 8.20 (68) win for the visitors.

The GIANTS were buoyed by the return of Brett Deledio, who’s been sidelined since earlier in the AFL season with hamstring and calf complaints. Deledio racked up a team-high 32 disposals to go along with his five tackles and 13 clearances.

Deledio steered the GIANT’S midfield, with his tough and grinding style creating plenty of movement up front, but it was the GIANTS’ lack of finish inside the 50 that proved to be their undoing.

“At half time we’d had so many more inside 50’s and scoring opportunities, and we should’ve taken the pressure off early and been well in front by the end,” said GIANTS development coach Damian Truslove.

“I thought we rushed some of our shots, probably through perceived pressure because the Gold Coast is the number one tackling team in the competition, but we should’ve put a lot more scoreboard pressure on them. We’ll be doing a lot of work on that next week.”

Playing in the forward line, Zach Sproule continued to prove his attacking value for the GIANTS with two goals, 14 touches and seven marks, whilst Jeremy Finlayson and Tim Mohr’s 27 and 25 touches respectively highlighted the defensive workload the GIANTS backline were put under.

Gold Coast themselves had a strong AFL representation with senior players Michael Barlow, Pearce Hanley and Brayden Fiorini all performing strongly with Barlow, in particular, showing his class with 44 touches.

The Suns kicked two early goals to start strongly in the first quarter, with Barlow getting plenty of possessions early in the contest.

It wasn’t long until the GIANTS found their rhythm however, with Nick Shipley kicking their first in the 16th minute and three more GIANTS goals within six minutes to follow. It saw the GIANTS hold a 10 point lead at the first break.

With the Suns dominating contested possession early in the second term, and kicking an early goal, it appeared momentum was about to swing in the way of Gold Coast, but not long after Sproule booted a spectacular goal from deep inside the pocket.

Defensively the GIANTS remained strong, limiting the Suns to just six inside 50’s in the second quarter, and 13 in total for the half.

With the defensive effort the GIANTS midfield got back on top possession-wise, supplying plenty of opportunities to the forward line to extend their lead however, the GIANTS were unable to convert, kicking one goal and eight behinds.

Despite this, the GIANTS managed to take a hard-earned 22 points lead into the main break.

Goals remained a premium throughout the third term, with both side’s defence holding up strong, the NEAFL GIANTS remained on top at the final break, taking a 15 point lead into the fourth quarter.

With Sproule adding his second early in the final term, it felt as though the GIANTS were going to run away with the game. The Suns kept coming however, kicking two in quick succession to put them in reach of the lead.

GIANTS Academy player James Peatling cooly kicking a goal from directly in font to cushion the GIANTS lead, but the Suns kicked two more to go in front with just minutes remaining.

The devastating loss that places the GIANTS in a logjam in the middle of the NEAFL ladder on 24 points alongside Saturday's opponents Gold Coast and next weekend’s Brisbane.

GIANTS 4.6, 5.14, 6.17 8.20 (68)

SUNS 3.2, 5.2, 6.8, 10.10 (70)

Goals - Z Sproule 2; M Walker J Peatling A Bonar D Buckley N Shipley M Flynn 1

The NEAFL GIANTS will next face Brisbane Lions next Saturday at the Gabba at 3:00pm.

GIANTS development coach Damian Truslove on the GIANTS’ AFL Listed Players:

Aiden Bonar - 1 goal, 16 disposals, 6 tackles

“Bonar spent the first half in the middle then the second half he spent more forward. He’s powerful around stoppages and clearances and drives his legs really well, which is exciting, but he's improving his running patterns and trying to impact the scoreboard a little bit more.”

Brett Deledio - 32 disposals, 13 clearances, 3 inside 50’s

“He was fantastic and I thought he was our best player. He used the ball well and his leadership was fantastic and he gave us forward momentum in the first half with his legspeed. He’ll be knocking on the door for senior selection next week.”

Isaac Cumming - 18 disposals, 8 marks

“I thought he defended well. We’ve placed a lot of focus on defending first and driving the offence off the back of that, which I thought he did pretty well. He gave us a lot of drive in the first half, but was under huge pressure in the last quarter."

Jeremy Finlayson - 27 disposals

“He was solid. We want him to work on the defensive aspect of his game, we know he’s solid offensively. He’s still got a bit of work to do in that area, but I thought today he gave us a lot of drive and it’s always exciting when he gets his hands on the ball.”

Daniel Lloyd - 19 disposals, 6 tackles, 4 inside 50’s

“Good first game back after injury. I thought, in particular, his first half really impacted the game. It was a shame he kicked four behinds and no goals but I thought he found the ball really well and in the midfield, I thought."

Lachlan Keefe - 14 disposals, 3 inside 50’s

“Really disciplined game on the wing for Lachie. He does it every week and works really hard two ways. He’s a great leader for our team and sets up our stoppages really well too, so a good solid game from Lachie.”

Dylan Buckley - 1 goal, 11 disposals

“Bucks got a bit of a head knock in the second quarter which took a bit of sting out of his game. But I thought he looked dangerous early and continued to work hard and put defensive pressure on in our forward half but I think he would’ve liked to have a bit more impact on the game.”

Jake Stein - 16 disposals, 8 marks

“Steiney was caught very deep and played as our deepest defender all day. I thought he was fairly disciplined in that role, brought the ball to ground when he needed to and spoiled really well and late in the game gave us a bit of run and drive which was great.”

Tim Mohr - 25 disposals, 11 marks, 4 rebound 50’s

“Tim’s had a big focus to get more involved offensively and to take more marks, which I think he took 11 marks to go along with plenty of possessions so he’s in really good form.”

Matthew Flynn -  1 goal, 19 disposals, 49 hitouts

“He won the hitouts easily I think, so he was fantastic for us today in the ruck. I thought his follow up work was a lot better today and I think he took close to seven or eight marks as well so he competed really well.”

Nick Shipley - 1 goal, 18 disposals, 6 marks

“He played in the midfield and had a bit of a role on Barlow, who was fantastic today, so we tried to take some of his influence out of the game with Ships running with him but then we moved him forward late. He had a bit of an impact down forward and continues to work hard every week.”

Zach Sproule - 2 goals, 14 disposals, 7 marks

“Zach led the goalscorers and went on ball, and was really exciting on ball. He gave us a bit of a spark and a lift at times around clearances. He probably missed a goal early that he wished he would’ve kicked. But he’s just got to keep impacting the scoreboard and competition in the air, but I thought it was a step forward.”

Matt Buntine - 16 disposals, 7 marks

“Buntine’s going really well. He continues to play well every week. He came off early today, which was unfortunate for our team, but he came off as an emergency for the AFL side. His first half was fantastic, he sets us up down back and doesn’t lose too many contests and he certainly used the ball well by foot today.”