A CALF injury to prize recruit Lewis Jetta and an injury to defender Mitch Brown has taken some of the sheen off West Coast's last-gasp three-point victory over an inexperienced Gold Coast side in their NAB Challenge match at Joondalup on Thursday.
The Eagles were 18 points down at three-quarter time but finished strongly with the aid of a stiff breeze, kicking three unanswered goals to win 0.7.13 (55) to 1.6.7 (52).
Dangerous swingman Jeremy McGovern drifted forward late to kick the match-winner after spending most of the day in defence.
Despite the result, Jetta's injury was the major concern for West Coast. The former Sydney Swan had eight touches in an electric first term before limping off with a calf injury early in the second, and never returned.
In the second game of his comeback from a season-ending knee injury in 2015, Brown injured his finger, and did not play any part in the last quarter.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson said both men would need to have scans this week and also said it was hard to get a gauge on his side's performance given the difficulty of the conditions.
"I thought the conditions were really tricky today," Simpson said.
"I thought it was good contest. It would've been a dirty game to watch.
"It was just a good scrap for us. I got a lot of coaching out of it. I tried a lot of things.
"I thought Gold Coast had a really good crack. But I thought we also responded as well."
The Suns lost Jesse Lonergan to an ankle injury and Jarrod Garlett hurt his shoulder late, but they lost no admirers with a gritty performance against a strong Eagles' side.
The Suns won the contested possession count and held their own in the clearances, while their defence stood tall under a mountain of pressure during the second and fourth terms.
Suns coach Rodney Eade was really pleased with the performance of his young group despite the result.
"For three-and-a-half quarters I was really thrilled with what we were able to produce," Eade said.
"The effort was probably the main thing. We won the contested ball by one against a team that's a really good contested ball side and the tackles we won by 13.
"I thought our pressure was really good and the effort from the younger guys was terrific. I think across the board there was a lot to like."
Trent McKenzie was outstanding down back with 25 possessions and five marks. He unleashed some enormous kick-outs, including one torpedo that cleared the centre circles. Touk Miller was industrious, while Peter Wright and former Eagle Ryan Davis bagged two goals each. Wright showed plenty of promise up forward, pulling down five marks.
The Eagles had 30 more inside 50s than their opponents but struggled to hit the scoreboard. Mark LeCras starred up forward with 24 touches and two goals. Andrew Gaff and Nic Naitanui was also impressive, while McGovern was highly influential at both ends, including when it mattered most.
WHAT WE LEARNED
West Coast: Jeremy McGovern could be the most valuable swingman in the competition. McGovern's role in 2016 has been a source of debate this summer, but he started in defence against the Suns and was influential taking numerous intercept marks and setting up forward raids from the back half. He then went forward late in the last quarter and kicked the winning goal.
Gold Coast: Peter Wright and Sam Day appear to fighting for the spot to partner Tom Lynch up front for the Suns, and Wright did his chances no harm with an impressive display. He took five marks and kicked 2.2. Day took a big mark and kicked a goal, but Wright shone brighter in the first three quarters.
West Coast: Lewis Jetta started brilliantly and collected eight possessions in the first term, but limped off with a calf injury at the start of the second quarter and never returned.
Gold Coast: Ryan Davis was impressive against his old side kicking two goals and providing some run through the wing and half-forward. Former Kangaroo Daniel Currie competed well in the ruck against Nic Naitanui. Brayden Fiorini had to wait until the second half to get his first taste of senior football.
The Eagles remain in Perth for their final NAB Challenge match, and will face Essendon at Domain Stadium on Sunday March 13 in the last game of the pre-season. The Suns travel home to host Adelaide at Metricon Stadium next Friday night to round off their summer.
WEST COAST 0.1.2 0.2.8 0.4.10 0.7.13 (55)
GOLD COAST 0.2.4 0.3.5 1.6.7 1.6.7 (52)
West Coast: Nil
Gold Coast: Lemmens
West Coast: LeCras 2, McGovern 2, Darling, Ellis, McInnes
Gold Coast: Wright 2, Davis 2, Martin, Day
West Coast: LeCras, Gaff, Naitanui, McGovern, Priddis, Sheppard
Gold Coast: McKenzie, Miller, Wright, Davis, Currie, Lemmens
West Coast: Jetta (calf), Brown (hand)
Gold Coast: Lonergan (ankle), Garlett (shoulder)
Umpires: Margetts, Farmer, Dalgleish, Williamson
Official crowd: 5021 at HBF Arena, Joondalup