An emphatic seven-goal third quarter has paved the way for Gold Coast’s 31-point over the Western Bulldogs at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night.
In a round of high-quality football, the Suns brought many smiles to the faces of their supporters with the win ensuring the first instance of back-to-back wins in the Gold Coast’s three-year history in the AFL.
Had Collingwood fallen to Geelong, the Suns would have sat ninth on the ladder – outside the eight on percentage – and given AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou one of the happiest moments of his life next to the birth of his children.
At 4-4, the Suns sit at 12th on the AFL ladder, on level peggings with finals contenders Adelaide, Carlton and West Coast, just one game outside the top eight.
The Suns fell into the bad habits so frequently exhibited in their initial seasons in the AFL in the first half, at one point trailing by 25 points during the second quarter.
They drew level before half time as the teams arm-wrestled for almost three quarters before the home side burst clear.
Trailing midway through the third term, Gold Coast slammed on six successive goals to round out the quarter and put the result beyond doubt.
Despite being definitively out-possessed (397-335 disposals), the work rate of the young Gold Coast side demonstrated the maturity required at the top level despite battling for much of the first half.
Campbell Brown was among the catalysts for the match-winning burst, kicking the first two goals and finished with three for the game.
Gary Ablett led from the front with 31 touches while Jaeger O’Meara (25) was again superb in his first season.
O’Meara’s freakish left-footed goal while being dragged to the ground lifted his teammates and the 13,520 spectators.
He backed it up moments later, winning the ball in a huge collision with Brett Goodes on the wing that ended up in an Aaron Hall goal.
The Suns’ resilience was again tested – although they passed with flying colours – through the entire second half when ruckman Zac Smith hyperextended a knee early and was substituted.
The loss is the Bulldogs’ seventh straight, and their 18th loss in the past 19 games.
Adam Cooney (31 disposals), Ryan Griffen (29) and Matthew Boyd (29) were prolific in the midfield, while first-year players Jake Stringer (three goals) and Jackson Macrae (26) were poised and impressive.
Speaking post-match, Gold Coast Coach Guy McKenna said he spoke of ‘composure’ as a buzz word for his side entering the match. ‘We had to keep matching the Dogs in contested footy, which I thought we did’, said McKenna. ‘Once we got it out of that contested situation we had to be patient, show some more composure, which we did in that third quarter.
‘The thing that kept us in the game all night was the pressure. Our ability to hunt them when they had the ball was super.’
After consecutive wins against oppositions of similar ability, the Suns will be really tested as they face a high-flying Hawthorn outfit next Sunday afternoon at the MCG.
GOLD COAST SUNS 1.3 4.7 11.11 13.15 (93)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.3 5.6 6.10 8.13 (61)
GOALS: Brown 3, Hall 2, Matera, Stanley, Bennell, Harbrow, O’Meara, Shaw, Day, May
BEST: Ablett, Brown, O’Meara, Thompson, Prestia, Stanley