The Zebras showed great heart but fell marginally short against the Gold Coast Suns VFL side at RSEA Park on Easter Sunday.
Photography: Mark Woods
Coming off a great win against Essendon last week, the Zebras couldn’t hold on, going down to the Suns by 17 points.
Darby Hipwell led the way for Sandringham with 31 disposals, two goals – both of which came in the first quarter – and a game-high eight tackles.
Tom Highmore (21 disposals and 12 marks), Jordan Segar (17 disposals and a goal) and Cooper Sharman (22 disposals and seven marks) were also standout performers in the yellow, black and blue.
In wet and windy conditions, Sandringham started the game with great intent as they hunted the undefeated Suns and kicked the opening two goals through Noah Gown.
Gown marked well from Sandringham Captain, Anthony Seaton’s long kick inside 50 and slotted the first goal of the game. In similar fashion three minutes later, Gown read the ball off Sharman’s boot and reacted smartly to clunk the mark and slot home his second.
With the play firmly locked in Sandringham’s forward half, Hipwell collected the ball under pressure with barely any room to move and snapped a miraculous goal – on Easter Sunday fittingly enough – with his left boot tight against the boundary line.
In response to Gold Coast’s first goal of the match, Sandringham showed fluid ball movement and great teamwork as debutant Tyrell Lafituanai fired the ball out to Oliver Lowe who then set up an opportunity for Tom Blamires to finish.
A mammoth 25 tackles in the opening quarter forced repeat stoppages in the forward half and Sandringham reaped the rewards through Hipwell who received the ball from Lafituanai and nailed his second.
Lafituanai made a solid start to his career in yellow, black and blue as he amassed six disposals and applied lively pressure across the forward line.
Fin Bayne (16 disposals and three tackles) and Benjamin Mansfield (13 disposals and seven tackles) also epitomised the Zebra’s willingness to work both ways.
Managing 13 scores from 18 inside-50s, the Zebras were well on top at quarter-time and led the game by 32 points.
Needing an astute defensive performance in the second quarter, Sandringham limited Gold Coast’s ability to score freely with the wind and kept them to three goals despite conceding 23 inside-50s.
Courageous contested marks in trying conditions from Gown, Will Dunne and Max Heath helped the Zebras to manage the game between the arcs as Sandringham led by nine points at half-time.
After a little bit of respite in the first half, the rain started to come down again at the start of the third quarter making it difficult to convert chances.
Sandringham kicked 1.4 in the third term as the Suns cut the margin to four points. Segar was the lone goal-kicker for Sandringham as he straightened after receiving the ball from Mansfield and finished from the pocket.
Despite a resolute defensive effort and moments of genuine threat which kept the Zebras within two goals until the 20th minute mark of the final term, Sandringham was unable to score against the breeze which ultimately decided the game.
The overall evenness of the contest was reflected in the scoring shots as Sandringham managed 20 compared to Gold Coast’s 22.
Sandringham will be looking to bounce back in Round 4 as they take on the Frankston Football Club at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Sunday afternoon.
Final Score: Sandringham Zebras 6.14 (50) defeated by Gold Coast Suns VFL 9.13 (67)
Goals: N. Gown (2), D. Hipwell (2), T. Blamires, J. Segar