Suns get chance to shine
GOLD Coast looked at life without Gary Ablett in the midfield, and saw that it was good.
The alarm bells were ringing last week when it was confirmed the Suns skipper would be out for the next few rounds with a knee injury.
The best player in the game who had been in the best form of his career missing, what hope would Gold Coast have, especially against an in-form North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon?
Well, the Suns proved that not having their brightest star to rely on might be the best thing for the development of their lesser lights.
As we said this time last week, 'time for a few kids to stand up. Afterall, it's not healthy for one player to be picking up more than 40 disposals a game'.
The kids did stand up, and it wasn't just in the absence of Ablett, but also fellow experienced players including midfielder Michael Rischitelli and defender Jarrod Harbrow.
The Suns had 95 less touches than the Roos, and would go on to lose by 34 points, but were up by a point at half-time after producing their most productive quarter ever (7.3) and looking like they might just pull off an amazing upset.
After being thrashed by Adelaide, St Kilda and Brisbane and beaten by Essendon, they put in their best performance of the season.
No-one got anywhere near 30 touches, let alone 40 - with one of only three Suns in the match with more than 50 games, Jared Brennan, gathering a team-high 24.
Importantly, the load was much more evenly shared, especially when it came to all-important clearances, David Swallow (4), Harley Bennell (4), first-gamer Kyal Horsley (4), Karmichael Hunt (5) and Josh Caddy (5) relishing the greater responsibility.
God forbid, you leave Ablett out. He will be back in a few weeks - as long as his fingers hold up from all his tweeting - but if the youngsters can keep progressing in that time, the Suns coaching staff should look at playing him forward more often.
As Whitney Houston once sang, 'the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way'.
As well as the benefits it would bring to those rising stars in the midfield, Ablett could use his strength and creativeness to make an even bigger impact on the scoreboard. Like dear old dad, he does love a goal or five.
It was better signs for the AFL's battlers all-round over the weekend.
In Canberra, the Western Bulldogs' No.1 ticket-holder, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, had a major scare, and it wasn't just because AFL chief Andrew Demetriou was sitting a little too close for comfort, in between her and partner Tim Mathieson, in the Manuka Oval stand.
GWS had won their first opening term after keeping her beloved Doggies goalless.
The spirited Giants would eventually be overrun by 42 points, but Jeremy Cameron, who slotted five goals, again showed he will be an absolute gun, while big Izzy Folau again showed he is making real progress.
RESULTS FROM ROUND 5 OF THE 2012 AFL SEASON
COLLINGWOOD 2.4 5.6 9.8 11.14 (80)
Goals: Cloke, Swan 3; Blair 2; Sidebottom, Jolly, Beams.
Best: Swan, Clarke, Pendlebury, Beams, Wellingham, Toovey.
ESSENDON 1.3 3.6 7.8 11.13 (79)
Goals: Davey 3; Zaharakis 2; Monfries, Hocking, Howlett, Lonergan, Dell'Olio, Stanton.
Best: Zaharakis, Heppell, Howlett, Dyson, Lonergan.
Crowd: 86,932 at the MCG on Wednesday.
CARLTON 2.1 6.2 9.4 10.5 (65)
Goals: Garlett, Walker, Robinson 2; Hampson, Waite, Betts, Simpson.
Best: Simpson, Gibbs, Murphy, Robinson, Scotland, Walker.
FREMANTLE 1.2 3.9 4.10 7.15 (57)
Goals: Hill, Mayne, Ballantyne, Clarke, Pavlich, Crowley, McPharlin.
Best: Hill, Duffield, Mzungu, Pavlich, McPharlin, Crowley.
Crowd: 38,847 at Patersons Stadium on Friday.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.5 8.9 12.12 15.14 (104)
Goals: Higgins, Cooney, Dahlhaus 2; Cordy, Djerrkura, Boyd, Griffen, Jones, Sherman, Wallis, Picken, Grant.
Best: Griffen, Cross, Picken, Boyd, Higgins, Cooney.
GIANTS 2.4 5.5 8.6 9.8 (62)
Goals: Cameron 5; Hampton 2; Bruce, T Adams.
Best: Cameron, Bugg, Power, Greene, Davis, Townsend.
Crowd: 9128 at Manuka Oval on Saturday.
NORTH MELBOURNE 4.9 8.13 14.22 17.25 (127)
Goals: Petrie, Thomas, Edwards 3; Harper, Adams 2; McIntosh, Harvey, Cunnington, Macmillan.
Best: Swallow, Macmillan, Atley, Cunnington, Thomas, Bastinac.
GOLD COAST 2.5 9.8 10.12 12.16 (88)
Goals: Brown, Day, Bennell, Dixon 2; Illes, Lynch, Swallow, Russell.
Best: Bennell, Horsley, Swallow, Bock, Hunt.
Crowd: 17,680 at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
ST KILDA 5.4 8.5 10.9 12.12 (84)
Goals: Wilkes 3; Milne, Steven, Riewoldt 2; Stanley, Montagna, Hayes.
Best: Hayes, Fisher, Dal Santo, Milera, Wilkes, Armitage.
MELBOURNE 4.1 8.3 10.6 10.6 (66)
Goals: Jones, Bail 2; Moloney, Bate, Watts, Davey, Dunn, Bartram.
Best: Jamar, Jones, Rivers, McKenzie, McDonald, Grimes, Magner.
Crowd: 24,798 at the MCG on Saturday.
GEELONG 4.1 7.5 10.6 12.7 (79)
Goals: Hawkins 6; Chapman 2; Corey, Duncan, Motlop, Selwood.
Best: Hawkins, Chapman, Christensen, T.Hunt, Selwood, Taylor.
BRISBANE LIONS 0.5 0.7 1.9 4.17 (41)
Goals: McGrath, Rockliff, Black, Brown.
Best: Rockliff, Rich, Hudson, Black, Redden.
Crowd: 15,528 at the Gabba on Saturday.
SYDNEY SWANS 2.2 5.4 9.7 16.10 (106)
Goals: Goodes, Kennedy 3; O'Keefe, Bird, Bolton 2; McVeigh, Jack, Jetta, Hannebery.
Best: Kennedy, Richards, Goodes, Bird, Hannebery, O'Keefe.
HAWTHORN 5.3 8.6 8.6 10.9 (69)
Goals: Roughead 5, Hale, Lewis 2; Rioli.
Best: Roughead, Burgoyne, Lewis, Guerra, Schoenmakers.
Crowd: 19, 217 at Aurora Stadium on Sunday.
WEST COAST 5.3 11.6 12.11 16.11 (107)
Goals: Darling 4; Hill 3; Lynch, Masten, Hams 2; Cox, Kennedy, S Selwood.
Best: Kerr, Priddis, Gaff, Darling, Natanui.
RICHMOND 4.2 9.4 12.9 14.13 (97)
Goals: Miller 3; Vickery, Riewoldt, Martin, Jackson 2; Cotchin, Ellis, Maric.
Best: Martin, Cotchin, Foley, Deledio, Grigg.