Sport AFL Brilliant Ablett fires Suns past Tigers

Brilliant Ablett fires Suns past Tigers

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• One Giant leap: GWS rain on Buddy’s parade

Gold Coast got their AFL campaign off to a winning start with a gutsy 18-point victory over Richmond on Saturday night.

The Suns came home with a wet sail in front of 19,425 fans at Metricon Stadium, booting five goals in the final term to seal the 12.18 (87) to 10.9 (69) win.

Skipper Gary Ablett picked up where he left off last season, with the dual Brownlow Medallist amassing 41 touches and two goals in a masterful display.

The victory was especially pleasing for the Suns after they lost youngster Jack Martin and big forward Charlie Dixon before the third quarter.

Martin’s highly-anticipated AFL debut only lasted half a quarter before he was subbed off after injuring his left shoulder diving to claim a mark.

The 19-year-old’s absence hardly stifled the Suns as they raced to a 15-point quarter-time lead thanks to a burst of four goals inside 10 minutes.

The Tigers responded by restricting the home team to just one major in the second term and reducing the margin to seven points at halftime.

Dixon didn’t return after the break after failing a concussion test, leaving the Suns with just two men on the interchange bench.

That lack of bodies appeared to be decisive as the Tigers clawed their way back into the contest, briefly hitting the front in the final quarter when Dustin Martin popped up with a goal.

That seemed to spark new life into the Suns, who charged home with Tom Lynch and Sam Day particularly impressive.

Day and Lynch both kicked two goals, while Danny Stanley also bagged two, as did skipper Ablett.

While Martin’s debut was underwhelming, young defenders Clay Cameron and Sean Lemmens impressed in their AFL bows making light of the absence of Rory Thompson and Nathan Bock.

For the Tigers, Ty Vickery kicked two goals while Trent Cotchin and Brett Deledio were impressive.