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Oppo report: Battle of the rucks

Tiarne Swersky and Dean Lucente  July 13, 2017 3:23 PM

Buckley addresses the media Coach Nathan Buckley spoke to the media on Tuesday about the final round seven rounds of the home and away season, beginning with Saturday's clash with the Gold Coast.

Presenting all you need to know about Collingwood’s round 17 opponents – the Gold Coast Suns – as they prepare to go head-to-head on Saturday afternoon at Metricon Stadium.

How did they perform last week?

It was a disappointing day for the Suns last round as they succumbed to a 67-point defeat at the hands of the in-form Sydney Swans at the SCG.

After kicking five goals in the opening term, Gold Coast was held goalless in the second and third quarters, while Sydney piled on 10 majors of its own to claim a dominant lead.

The Swans’ forward duo of Gary Rohan (five goals) and Lance Franklin (three goals), paired with the defensive influence of Dane Rampe (25 disposals, 13 marks) and Heath Grundy (24 disposals, seven marks) proved too much for the Suns. Midfielders Jake Lloyd and Luke Parker starred with 30 and 29 touches respectively.

For the Suns, former Crow Jarryd Lyons continued his impressive run of form with 27 possessions, six marks and seven tackles, while midfielder David Swallow (29 disposals, five tackles, one goal) and co-captain Tom Lynch (11 disposals, four tackles, three goals) battled hard despite the lopsided score line.

The Suns walk off the SCG following their 67-point loss to the Swans last week. Image: AFL Photos.

What did their coach say?

“It was a real learning curve for our younger blokes, and even our leaders, our young leaders to persevere when things are going against you,” Suns coach Rodney Eade said at his post-match press conference after the loss.

“Some of the young lads did themselves proud, others will just have to learn from it.”

Despite the disappointing performance, Eade credited some of his better performers.

“There were some good performances in the midfield. David Swallow played really well. He was probably our best player. Jarryd Lyons, again. Jarrod Witts was terrific in the ruck.

Touk Miller was good again and he had 10 or 12 tackles, so there’s four of five players who really put their hand up.”

Rodney Eade remained positive despite the heavy defeat. Image: AFL Photos.

Which player(s) are in good form?

After signing with the Gold Coast Suns in the offseason - following four seasons with Collingwood - ruckman Jarrod Witts is enjoying a breakout season with his new club.

The 24-year-old has played every game for the Queensland franchise in 2017. With an average of 38 hit outs and 14 disposals on the season, Witts is firming as a contender for the All-Australian ruckman. His challenger may well be his former teammate and current Collingwood ruckman, Brodie Grundy.

Grundy is enjoying one of his best seasons; averaging 36 hit outs and 18 disposals. The two will go head-to-head on Saturday at Metricon Stadium.

“(Jarrod) has really been really one shining light for us this year,” Eade said of his ruckman following the Sydney loss.

“His ability to win the ball in the air and then to get around the ground, I don’t think there’d be many times he’s been beaten this year. He seems to go under the radar…I think he’s been one of the better ruckmen in the competition.

“He’s played really well. He’s had a good year. I think he’s been excellent for us.”

Witts battles with North Melbourne's Todd Goldstein earlier this season. Image: AFL Photos.

Who’s injured?

Gold Coast star Gary Ablett missed the Swans game after the Suns withdrew the 300-gamer with a hamstring complaint.

“Gary is progressing well this week. He’ll be tested Thursday to ensure his hamstring is 100 per cent. If he gets through that training, he should line up on Saturday afternoon,” GM of Football Operations Marcus Ashcroft told Suns TV this week.

Midfielder Aaron Hall was another Sun that missed last week with a hamstring.

“He was close last weekend, but wasn’t risked with his hamstring. He’s done a lot of work over the past four or five days,” Ashcroft said.

Brandon Matera (foot), Kade Kolodjashnij (concussion), Jarrod Grant (groin) will all have to prove their fitness ahead of Saturday’s clash.

Gold Coast’s injury list
Cam Loersch (Hand) – TBC
Gary Ablett (Hamstring) – Test
Brandon Matera (Foot) – Test
Kade Kolodjashnij (Concussion) – 1 Week
Sam Day (Hip) – Season
Michael Barlow (Leg) - Season

Gary Ablett may return from a hamstring injury against the Pies. Image: AFL Photos.

Who’s in the mix to play on Sunday?

After missing last week with a hamstring, Gold Coast expect running defender Pearce Hanley to return against the Pies.

“Pearce is right to go. He narrowly missed last weekend. He’s done a lot of training over the weekend…we’d expect him to play on Saturday afternoon,” said Ashcroft.

Ablett and Hall could join Hanley as three big inclusions into the Suns’ side.

And after recovering from a knee reconstruction, veteran Michael Rischitelli is available for selection, according to the Suns. The midfielder has spent the past month in the NEAFL building up his form.

Hanley (left) celebrates a goal with teammate Sean Lemmens earlier this year. Image: AFL Photos.

What are the key numbers between the two sides?

Head to Head
Collingwood - 4
Gold Coast – 2
Draws – 0

Largest crowds (during the H&A season)
36,913 – Round 10, 2012
24,032 – Round 16, 2014
23,302 – Round 18, 2011
19,721 – Round 17, 2013
17,644 – Round 22, 2016

Gold Coast’s recent form
Round 16 – Gold Coast 7.9 (51) def by Sydney 17.16 (118) at the SCG
Round 15 – Gold Coast 18.10 (118) def North Melbourne 14.15 (99) at Metricon Stadium
Round 14 – Gold Coast 10.12 (72) def by St Kilda 14.19 (103) at Etihad Stadium
Round 13 – Gold Coast 11.7 (73) def by Carlton 12.11 (83) at Metricon Stadium
Round 12 – Gold Coast 13.17 (95) def Hawthorn 12.7 (79) at the MCG

Last five times we’ve met
Round 22, 2016 – Collingwood 16.22 (118) def Gold Coast 6.11 (47) at Etihad Stadium
Round 8, 2015 – Gold Coast 9.9 (63) def by Collingwood 20.12 (132) at Metricon Stadium
Round 16, 2014 – Gold Coast 11.14 (80) def Collingwood 10.15 (75) at Metricon Stadium
Round 17, 2013 – Gold Coast 13.7 (85) def Collingwood 11.12 (78) at Metricon Stadium
Round 10, 2012 – Collingwood 23.11 (149) def Gold Coast 7.10 (97) at the MCG