AFL SUNS POWER
Port Adelaide's brigade of rising young talent has outshone Gold Coast's new boys to make a winning start to the 2020 AFL season.
The Power led at every change on Saturday night at Metricon Stadium, surging to a 10.16 (76) to 4.5 (29) victory.
Connor Rozee, Todd Marshall and debutant Mitchell Georgiades all played key roles in the 47-point win, as Ken Hinkley's team made the perfect start to a year in which the Power coach had warned the league to "look out - we're coming".
Marshall kicked two goals while West Australian draftee Georgiades also booted two including a first-quarter major after which he was mobbed by teammates.
Rozee, who ran the Suns' halfback line ragged at times with his silky play, finished the match with 21 disposals and a goal.
There were also flashes of brilliance at times by 19-year-old Zak Butters.
After a promising pre-season which featured wins over Geelong and Adelaide, a 19th-straight AFL defeat was deflating for Suns coach Stuart Dew who believed his team had "dodged a bullet" by only losing by 47 points.
Gold Coast's team featured five new faces, including debutants Noah Anderson, Matthew Rowell and Connor Budarick.
Dew believed those youngsters had stood up when their more senior teammates did not during the match.
"We don't think that's a true reflection of the work we've put in. We have to wear that tonight for sure," Dew said.
"Some of our more senior players were not combative enough.
"We'll have to have a look at that and make sure that doesn't happen again because at different times there was some passages where guys in their first game were putting their head over the ball and showing the way which is fantastic, but we're not going to win games of footy if we're relying on that."
Plenty of Port's older heads also performed well including Travis Boak (25 disposals, four tackles), Brad Ebert (20 disposals, one goal) and Robbie Gray (18 disposals, six contested possessions).
Despite the win, a quad injury in the third-quarter is almost certain to rule Hamish Hartlett out of next week's Showdown against Adelaide while Brad Ebert (knee) and Sam Powell-Pepper (shoulder) also finished the game with concerns.
Hinkley was thrilled his team took their own impressive pre-season form into round one and delivered.
"We've played really good footy, I think, through the pre-season and it was good for the boys to back it up and even in the second half, we had total domination of the game and we kicked one goal, 10 (behinds) and four misses," he said.
"It was a pretty good performance, albeit our completion in the second half, we've got a bit to work on."