A difficult season to grade for the Suns, with a dominant opening month of football soon deflating into another bottom five finish.
The quality is certainly there for their batch of promising young stars, but the club’s success and possible rise can’t rely on the shoulders of one red-haired bull in the midfield.
The positives did outweigh the negatives however, with this squad moving in the right direction ahead of next season.
Round 4 vs Fremantle – The young Suns outfit were coming off the back of two consecutive victories against West Coast and Adelaide, with the former perhaps rivalling their victory over the Dockers for win of the season.
While Gold Coast amassed a 44-point win over the Eagles, it was their determined four-quarter effort against the Dockers a fortnight later that sent a strong warning to the rest of the competition.
The match was a scrappy encounter from the opening bounce, with the Suns booting five goals in the second quarter to take the lead at half-time.
By the end of the third term, the scores were level as the Dockers looked to be fighting back, but the Suns looked to lift once again in the last, taking the four points in a topsy-turvy match at Metricon.
Midfield trio Matt Rowell, Brandon Ellis and Touk Miller all ended the match with a game-high 20 disposals, while four players, including Rowell, booted multiple majors.
The win sent the Suns to 2nd on the ladder and were looking mightily impressive at 3-1.
Round 18 vs Hawthorn – Coming into the final round of the season, the Suns’ red hot start seemed a distant memory after earning just two wins following the fourth round.
In true 2020 fashion, Hawthorn were hosting Gold Coast at Adelaide Oval in a match that would see premiership duo Ben Stratton and Paul Puopolo enjoy a swansong performance.
The Suns offered very little to crash the Hawks’ party, booting just one goal to Hawthorn’s seven in the opening quarter and never looking in the fight.
The Suns looked lethargic were dominated by a bottom four side by almost 10 goals.
Touk Miller: The club’s best player is undoubtedly Matt Rowell, but their most valuable player for the 2020 season goes to Touk Miller.
The 24-year-old stood up in a midfield full of new faces and was a consistent performer for Stuart Dew, playing in every match for the season and was top four at the club for disposals, kicks, handballs, tackles, clearances and contested possessions.
The Suns weren’t as shining as their opening four or so rounds of football, but Miller was one of the few players to remain at the top of his game throughout.
Sam Collins: The former Fremantle defender shot up the ranks in 2020 after becoming one of the league’s premier intercept players.
Collins was given the task of going head-to-head with the competitions best forwards and claimed a number of impressive scalps along the way.
Collins went on to win the club’s best and fairest after a spectacular season that saw him rank 2nd in the league for intercept possessions and 5th for intercept marks.
NEEDS TO LIFT
Brayden Fiorini: After a stellar 2019 campaign, the 23-year-old struggled to break into the senior squad and was limited to five games for the year.
Fiorini averaged over 25 disposals last year, with his possession numbers almost halved in 2020 as he fell in Dew’s midfield rankings.
If the Suns want to shoot up the ladder in 2021 and fight for a top eight spot, fringe players like Fiorini will need to step up when their depth is exposed.
INS AND OUTS
Peter Wright (Essendon)
Future 3rd-round pick
2021 CRYSTAL BALL
The ceiling is very high for the Suns next season, with the club sitting as one of the best in the league until Matt Rowell’s cruel season-ending shoulder injury.
If the star neophyte and his band of brothers can remain healthy and this surging Suns outfit can continue on it’s trajectory, finals football certainly isn’t out of the question.
Their depth is sure to be tested next season. If injuries manage to riddle their campaign, it could be a repeat of the last several years.