Their disposal efficiency was at 80 per cent by the final change, well up on their season average of 72.3 per cent, and they were able to take 131 marks in a free-flowing game.
Coleman Medal leader Harry McKay, scoreless for most of the afternoon, had 12 touches and seven marks to his name when he injured his right shoulder in a contest midway through the last term. He returned to the field and kicked a goal with two and a half minutes on the clock, but was clearly in pain. King, meanwhile, was well held by Jacob Weitering.
Noah Anderson, who led the game’s disposals with 15 in the first half, had 10 in the third term and finished with 30 touches, and was clinical by foot to get Gold Coast back in front. Anderson amassed nine clearances from just 72 per cent time on ground, and was supported by Touk Miller (35 disposals) in the win.
It was a much-needed win for the Suns, for their morale as a club and for the future of coach Stuart Dew. The win was the Suns’ seventh this season and the win was celebrated by all in the change-rooms.
“They’re the moments you remember; sometimes you don’t even remember the moments of the game,” Dew said of singing the song with players and staff.
“The aftermath, those first 15 or 20 minutes [after the game], they’re the memories that stick, when the players look you in the eye and you see the joy. That’s important to us.”
The only sour note was an injury to Brandon Ellis, who was subbed out of the match in the second term after pinging his hamstring.
The tale of two coaches
‘Relief’ wasn’t a word Dew was keen to associate with Saturday’s win, but any talk around his future as Suns coach will be light-on this week after his side’s response to last weekend’s 98-point loss to Melbourne.
“I’m actually just proud of the players,” Dew said. “I’m not sure [the players] feel a lot of relief. The overwhelming feeling, personally, is pride in this club and staff.
“I think [the win] shows we’re a footy club with a fair bit of heart.”
But if the pressure was on both Dew and Teague heading into the clash, the pendulum will swing heavily towards Ikon Park.
“I have faith in the group,” a defiant Teague said.
“I think there’s a challenge point for our group, probably from an expectation point of view. A couple of times when we’ve gone in as favourites we haven’t played as well.
“We’ve got to find a way to stay really present and be able to execute at our best for longer.”
Gold Coast: Anderson, Miller, Powell, Fiorini, Sexton.
Carlton: Newman, Weitering, Walsh, Saad, E. Curnow.
N. Anderson (Gold Coast) 8
T. Miller (Gold Coast) 8
W. Powell (Gold Coast) 7
N. Newman (Carlton) 7
B. Fiorini (Gold Coast) 7
Keep up to date with the best AFL coverage in the country. Sign up for the Real Footy newsletter.