The Suns dug in well enough early, with Sam Collins repelling multiple Essendon attacks by himself in defence. Joel Jeffrey curled in a clever snap, and Josh Corbett again showed his elite hands overhead.
But it quickly fell away. Touk Miller, yet again, was his side’s hardest working player, alongside skipper David Swallow, but they didn’t have enough support as the Bombers launched raid after raid.
They also couldn’t score. With Ben King badly beaten up forward, the Suns managed only two marks inside 50 for the game. Peter Wright, who kicked a career-best seven goals last week, missed the chance to embarrass his former club. But he might have been handy.
After ending the first quarter with the scores tied, Essendon blew away the Suns in the second with six goals to one. Stringer was the clear match-winner during this period, and sunk the Suns completely with his fourth goal early in the third.
From there, the Suns could barely get their hands on the ball that was camped almost permanently in Essendon’s attack. Devon Smith rifled through a goal after the siren to extend the margin to a neat 10 goals at the last change.
They weren’t able to heap too much more soil on top of the Suns from there. The match petered out to its conclusion, and on that point, Suns coach Stuart Dew can be pleased his side didn’t completely turn it up, as they’ve done too often before.
The Bombers have firepower to come back, in the shape of Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti – given a spell for this match – and the promising Nik Cox. They still need a little luck, but they’ve gone a long way to making some of their own.
Gold Coast Suns 2.2 3.4 3.6 4.6 (30)
Essendon 2.2 8.8 12.12 14.14 (98)
Gold Coast Suns: Jeffrey, Corbett, Fiorini, Townsend.
Essendon: Stringer 5, Guelfi 2, Waterman 2, Perkins, Durham, Hind, Smith, Clarke.
Gold Coast Suns: Miller, Collins.
Essendon: Stringer, Parish, Hind, Merrett, Draper, Redman.
Gold Coast Suns: Lemmens (corked thigh), substituted by Rory Atkins.
O’Gorman, Broadbent, Meredith.