Highlights: Suns v Saints
Gold Coast and St Kilda clash at Metricon Stadium
A GARY Ablett masterclass on Saturday night secured Gold Coast a 13-point win over St Kilda in their AFL season opener at Metricon Stadium.
The Suns' captain kicked four goals, including three in the final term, to guide the home team to a shock 13.12 (90) to 10.17 (77) win.
Ablett sent the home fans into raptures when his second goal of the quarter put the Suns ahead but his best was yet to come.
The dual-premiership player stepped and fended his way through the Saints' defence, before sending a right-foot snap curling through the goal for his fourth major and a game-defining moment.
Ablett was simply sublime, somehow raising his game to another level. Not only did he kick four, the shiny-headed superstar collected 34 possessions, including 19 contested possessions, and finished with 135 Dream Team points.
Click here to read about the game's talking points
As well as recognising his skipper's genius, Guy McKenna pointed to the confidence Ablett showed in his teammates, allowing him to impact the match more in the Suns' forward 50.
"What we've seen with Gary too is his leadership in understanding that he doesn't need to be in the middle now," McKenna said.
"He's got the trust and confidence in David Swallow and Jaeger O'Meara ... Zac Smith and Charlie Dixon to win the clearance to get it forward so he can be on the end of it.
"His four goals were pretty telling in the end result of the game."
Charlie Dixon and Luke Russell were the other multiple goalkickers for the Suns, with Russell's second late in the fourth quarter a crucial settler after Steven Milne had closed the margin for St Kilda.
The Suns' victory, their third in as many matches at their home ground after defeating Greater Western Sydney and Carlton at the end of last season, was secured through a gutsy second-half display as they made the most of a scrappy performance by an undermanned St Kilda line-up.
The Saints, led by captain Nick Riewoldt's two goals, had looked to have settled when they booted five-goals to none in the second-quarter to turn an 11-point first-quarter deficit into a 19-point half-time lead.
But the Suns bounced back with Ablett, Matt Shaw and teenage debutant Jaeger O'Meara kicking three third-term goals to move within two kicks of the lead at the last change.
From there the home team took control of the match through Ablett's inspiration and some St Kilda ill-discipline, the visitors conceding three 50m penalties and handing the Suns' their first two goals of the final term through free-kicks.
Scott Watters pointed to his side's poor kicking in the first and third quarters, as a contributing factor to the defeat.
"The efficiency wasn't what it needs to be," Watters said.
"We had quarters with 1.5 and 1.7 and multiple inside 50 entries without being composed.
"The effort was strong, the efficiency was poor. You need both. We need to work hard to rectify. To lose a game on the back of it, it hurts."
Watters also admitted fatigue hurt his side dearly in the second half.
"We had pretty strong cramps throughout the third quarter [that] the doctors couldn't quite get on top of," Watters said.
"[It is] trying conditions early in the season you need your complete midfield up and going.
"We probably thought we were short of rotations in the third quarter and we were unable to finish up the game as we would have liked."
Late goals by Milne and Terry Milera, his third of the match, gave the Saints hope of snatching a win but Aaron Hall's late breakaway major sealed the win and sparked Gold Coast celebrations celebrations.
Gary Ablett celebrates one of four goals in the Suns' thrilling win over the Saints. Picture: AFL Media
3.6 3.8 6.11 13.12 (90)
1.7 6.9 7.14 10.17 (77)
Ablett 4, Russell 2, Dixon 2, Day, O'Meara, Shaw, Bennell, Hall
: Milera 3, Riewoldt 2, Maister, Milne, Steven, Siposs, Armitage
Ablett, Broughton, Dixon, Hall, Harbrow, Thompson, Shaw
Armitage, Geary, Milera, Steven, Riewoldt
Tom Simpkin replaced in selected side by Trent Dennis-Lane
Brandon Matera replaced Karmichael Hunt in the third quarter
Trent Dennis-Lane replaced Tom Hickey at three-quarter time
Donlon, Kamolins, Mitchell
13, 832 at Metricon Stadium