Design Will Cuckson

While the Suns improved dramatically in the 2022 season, there are still plenty of steps to take under coach Cameron Joyce this off season.

The Suns started to rise this year, with a great start to the 2022 season. They were unable to stay consistent however, and as a result missed out on a second finals appearance.

Finishing position: 10th (Three wins, one draw, six losses)

What worked?

The Suns made a lot of changes in the off season, starting with a new head coach in former AFL player Cameron Joyce. They also recruited strongly, and welcomed six debutants to the club in Round 1.

The changes brought about big improvement for the club, who broke their 11 game losing streak in Round 2.

The new look midfield with Charlie Rowbottom, Alison Drennan, Ellie Hampson was able to provide pressure to opposition teams and deliver the ball to their forward line well, working to Joyce’s new gameplan.

Charlie Rowbottom in attack. (Photo: Gold Coast Suns/Twitter)

What didn’t?

For all the improvement that the Suns were able to achieve this year, they just weren’t able to pull together enough consistent performances.

While they were able to match it with some of the big names in the competition, in many of these games they were unable to keep applying the pressure and win the games.

Their ability to score was also something that let them down. Despite their deep forward entries, there were games where they were unable to score in multiple quarters resulting in close losses where they were chasing large opposition margins. 

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Who impressed?

Tara Bohanna came to the Suns as a top-up player after winning the best and fairest for St Kilda’s VFLW side last season. She was a shining light for the Suns for the whole season, and kicked 13 out of their 40 goals. She staked her claim as one of the best goal kickers for the whole competition, finishing equal fifth overall.

This season’s number one draft pick Charlie Rowbottom was an important piece in the Suns midfield resurgence. She was able to average 16 disposals and seven tackles across the season and picked up the Rising Star nomination in round 2. Rowbottom worked well in the midfield to back the experienced Alison Drennan. 

Tara Bohanna celebrating a goal. (Photo: Gold Coast Suns)

Highs and lows

The Highs

The Suns were able to get back to back wins for the first time this season in a game where they had to fight to come back against the Tigers. They had the command of the game but were unable to capitalise on the scoreboard due to inaccuracies and turnovers in their forward 50.

They were able to hold on and in the last quarter overcame an eight point deficit at three quarter time to win by five points.

It was one of their best games of the year where they were able to show that they could match it with better teams and were developing from their poor season in 2021. 

The Lows

On the cusp of making finals in Round 8, the Suns travelled to Melbourne to play St Kilda who were yet to win a game at that point in the season.

St Kilda came bursting out the blocks and kicked four goals before the Suns were able to get one on the board. They struggled early with the Saints commanding all the play, but were able to rally in the last quarter.

Bohanna took the game into her own hands to get the Suns heartbreakingly close, losing by just three points in the end. This loss followed up by a draw against the Bulldogs squashed their finals hopes for 2022. 

Who’s on the move? 

Currently there haven’t been any confirmed list changes for the Suns but something that might be on their minds is the fact that Alison Drennan and Sarah Perkins have played with the Hawthorn VFLW side in previous off seasons.

The Hawks are set to join the AFLW competition this year and both would be valuable targets for the new side, with their experience. Perkins also has history with Hawthorn coach Bec Goddard from their premiership win for the Crows in the inaugural AFLW season. 

What’s next?

The Suns have had plenty of positives come out of this season, but there are still a number of areas where they can look to improve.

The development of Charlie Rowbottom and Ellie Hampson will be vital for the midfield to take the next step.

With Jade Pregelj suffering an ACL injury she may not be ready for the next season, leaving a gaping hole in the defensive group

The Suns may also look for the chance to look for someone to support Lauren Bella in the ruck. While Jacqueline Dupuy performed the role admirably, averaging seven hit ours, she was signed as a replacement player and isn’t guaranteed another list spot. With the ruck position being so important in AFLW, someone who is able to take some ruck duties and go back in the forward line could help with some of the scoring issues they have had this season.

Another target would be another strong key forward to support Sarah Perkins and take some of the focus off her as their key forward. 

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