Sean Lemmens added a second from a free kick before the Eagles had woken up. After that, for a while, the Eagles assumed control of the game. Tim Kelly, in his 50th match, ran riot along with Luke Shuey and Andrew Gaff in the middle, but their forwards couldn’t convert their dominance on the scoreboard.
Surely, that was only a matter of time. But Noah Anderson, last year’s No. 2 pick behind Rowell, kicked his first goal in league football as the Suns switched play across half-forward, and Sam Day – one of only three inaugural Suns left from their first year in the competition – put the home team out by 15 points.
But for Suns coach Stuart Dew, what happened next would have been even more impressive. The Eagles had hit back hard with four straight goals, Kelly involved in all of it, seizing back a 10-point lead. But rather than rolling over, the Suns composed themselves, dug in – Touk Miller locking down on Kelly – and got physical.
The Suns looked a different unit to the team that has so often been blown off the park. It was quite something to see them take it up to the bigger bodies of the Eagles. Rowell underlined his class with a goal on the run on a sharp angle, and Weller was playing his best game since crossing from Fremantle.
It was one thing for the Suns to seize back the lead by half-time. But for them to put the Eagles to the sword in the third quarter was something else again. And Rowell, by now vying for best on ground honours, was killing them: immensely strong through the hips, he looks like he’s already in his fifth year.
Really, the Eagles didn’t get a look in for the entire quarter, as the Suns piled on five goals to one – the only major for the Eagles courtesy of a 50-metre penalty. Their top-end talent was delivering, including Jack Lukosius, who’s struggled to find his feet at senior level since taken at pick No.2 in 2018.
It was a staggering result, even in the context of this aberrant season, and will ask the question of the Eagles early as they remained hubbed in foreign territory, where they struggled to adjust to the slippery conditions. For the Suns, never has a new beginning looked so bright.
GOLD COAST 2.0 6.2 11.4 14.6 (90)
WEST COAST 1.4 5.5 6.8 6.9 (45)
Gold Coast: Day 2, King 2, Ainsworth 2, Weller, Lemmens, Anderson, Greenwood, Rowell, Holman, Lukosius, Macpherson
West Coast: Allen 2, Shuey, Kennedy, Petruccelle, Darling
Gold Coast: Rowell, Weller, Day, Miller, Collins, Powell
West Coast: Gaff, Suey, Naitanui, Kelly