Suns eclipsed at the Gabba - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Suns eclipsed at the Gabba

By Laine Clark 03/04/2011 12:29:04 PM Comments (0)

What was supposed to be the realisation of a dream quickly became a nightmare for the Gold Coast Suns at the Gabba on Saturday night.

The AFL's 17th club endured a debut to remember - for all the wrong reasons - as Carlton romped to a 26.15 (171) to 7.10 (52) win in front of 27,914 fans.

The numbers that surrounded the Suns' meteoric AFL rise were staggering - $144 million for their redeveloped Gold Coast stadium, $7.5 million for captain Gary Ablett and reportedly another $2 million to make Karmichael Hunt switch codes.

Oh and the Suns also received nine of the first 15 picks in the 2011 Draft, 12 of the country's best 17-year-olds and eight uncontracted players - including that man Ablett.

But the only figure Suns coach Guy McKenna should be most concerned about was 119 - the final deficit after the siren mercifully sounded on Saturday night.

Another number that came back to haunt McKenna was 12 - the amount of debutants he blooded against the ruthless Blues.

McKenna may have been relying on youthful exuberance, but in the end it looked like boys playing against men as Carlton fittingly celebrated champion Chris Judd's 200th game.

Based on history, the Suns would have been forgiven for backing themselves on Saturday night - four of the last six debutants won their first AFL game.

But in the end they didn't know what hit them.

History will show Charlie Dixon kicked the Suns' first goal in the 16th minute.

Unfortunately for the Gold Coast, Carlton were already 30 points ahead before the Cairns forward kicked truly.

Indeed the Blues were ruthless as they pounded in nine goals to blow the deficit out to 9.5 (59) to 1.1 (7) by the first break alone.

Suns captain Ablett was restricted to just three touches in the opening term as the Blues gathered a remarkable 127 disposals compared to Gold Coast's 75 by the first break.

Ablett had only eight touches by halftime while code-hopper Hunt (four disposals by halftime) at times looked out of his depth lining up against Bret Thornton.

By halftime, the Blues had jumped to a 15.7 (97) to 3.5 (23) lead.

Then it really started to get ugly.

When the dust settled, Andrew Walker and Jeff Garlett both helped themselves to five goals while Bryce Gibbs and Marc Murphy nabbed 36 touches each.

For the Suns, Dixon finished with two majors while ex-Brisbane Lion Michael Rischitelli had 30 touches and ex-Kangaroo Dan Harris marked game No.150 with 29 disposals.

The Suns must somehow regroup in time for Saturday night's clash with the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.

McKenna said the belting was a "step we had to take".

"It was almost like watching our under-18s out there ... but it was just something we had to get out of the way," he said.

"In the club's journey it was always going to be a tough ask but it was the step we had to take.

"We had to take that first step - I think in most journeys the first step is the toughest.

"I probably expected better. But you have to weigh that up - even our experienced leaders got swamped at times."

Ablett - who did not play a pre-season game due to groin and calf complaints - finished with 23 touches.

"We had so many playing their first game and they are definitely going to get a lot out of that," Ablett said.

"The more games we get into these guys the better they are going to get."

Carlton coach Brett Ratten expected the Suns to bounce back immediately.

"It would be a good learning curve for them," Ratten said.

"I know from ourselves being involved in first rounds where we have been belted, you bounce back quickly.

"It gives you something that allows that not to happen again.

"I expect them to bounce back next week."

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