Reigning premiers slide to 0-3: Cats lose to Gold Coast

You’d think Geelong wouldn’t have been too worried after falling short against a red-hot Collingwood in round one. There would have been some more raised eyebrows, at the very least, after going down to Carlton in round two.

But after falling to the Suns by 19 points in round three, the Cats’ premiership defence is in crisis. The Suns were messy, nearly kicking themselves out of the contest – but in the end they overwhelmed Geelong with far greater intensity, getting better as the match wore on.

The Cats are winless in the first three rounds of the season.Credit:AFL Photos

The star was Jack Lukosius, who sealed the result with his (career-best) fifth goal, a checkside from 45 metres out. He’d just bombed through a set-shot drop punt from at least 65 metres that amazed even his teammates.

Other superb contributors for the Suns were Matt Rowell, who was a bull at a gate throughout, and the tireless Jarrod Witts. The Suns were inspired, not least by their mighty teammate David Swallow, the first Sun to make it to 200 games.

But the Cats are in a hole. Apart from Tom Stewart, Patrick Dangerfield, Jeremy Cameron, and Isaac Smith, they had few four-quarter contributors. They looked flat and out of sorts – a shadow of the team that were a cut above all comers last year.

The Suns came out of the gate hard, but their entries inside 50 were sloppy, and spearhead Ben King – struggling for form since his return from a knee reconstruction – dropped two marks inside 50. The second of them was delivered on a platter.

Jack Lukosius celebrates one of his five goals for the Suns.Credit:Getty Images

The mistakes eventually caught up, Cameron kicking his first goal for the Cats from a bad turnover on the wing. But the Cats couldn’t press their advantage. There was a very early sense that all was not well.

The Suns’ yips only got bigger in front of goal in the second quarter: Joel Jeffrey, Malcolm Rosas, Jye Farrar and Lukosius all missing gettable shots. And King’s crisis of confidence continued as he grassed two more passes.

He did manage to get a tough ground ball to Lukosius to put the Suns in front, though, and the home side took a three-point lead into the break. They’d squandered chances, and lacked composure, but every player found a way to contribute.

Cameron was on the board with his second goal within a couple of minutes of the second half, and then Lachie Weller, who had been the Suns’ best player early, kicked out straight to Cameron for what should have been the superstar’s third.

David Swallow leads the Suns out alongside Jarrod Witts ahead of game 200.Credit:AFL Photos

But Cameron missed, the Suns bought a lotto ticket, and the ball rebounded for Lukosius to kick his third. King, finally, marked and kicked truly. The Suns were a goal up – not much, but the longer the contest ground on, the better they looked.

Their effort was typified by Nick Holman, who is currently sporting bleached rat’s tails that wouldn’t have been out of place at a 1980s Blue Light disco. But Holman was like the tough kid you didn’t want to bump into that night.

Holman smashed through each contest like a man possessed, eventually cannoning into Sam De Koning. Holman went off with blood streaming from a head wound, but it was De Koning who didn’t come back.

The Cats hit back – Cameron, after missing another he’d normally have gobbled, snapped a third from a sublime pick-up – but the Suns came at them again, Anderson sending them to the final break with a seven-point lead.

And now it was the Cats that had the yips – Cameron missing another shot at goal, Hawkins too – to let the Suns in. When Charlie Ballard, who’d endured a torrid day on Cameron, outmarked Hawkins and kicked just his second career goal, you knew it was the Suns’ day.


Swallow has given a lot of love and loyalty to the Suns in his 12-year career, so it was only fitting that the club showed some love back to him as their first player to reach 200 games. No one at the club has been harder at the contest for longer than Swallow, who would have reached the milestone much earlier if not for many serious injuries along the way. Among the guard of honour welcoming Swallow on to the ground were former teammates Harley Bennell, Zac Smith, Matt Shaw and Tom Nicholls.

GOLD COAST 2.3 3.9 6.11 10.13 (73)
GEELONG 3.4 3.6 5.10 7.12 (54)

GOALS Gold Coast: Lukosius 5, Ballard, King, Anderson, Jeffrey, Sexton. Geelong: Cameron 3, Rohan 2, Bowes, Dangerfield.

BEST Gold Coast: Lukosius, Holman, Witts, Collins. Geelong: Stewart, Guthrie, Smith, Blicavs.

UMPIRES Meredith, Rebeschini, Young, McGinness.

VENUE Heritage Bank Stadium

CROWD 13122

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