Alex Sexton of the Suns (C) celebrates with Ben Ainsworth (R) and Elijah Hollands after kicking a goal in Gold Coast's match against North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on August 20, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

GOLD Coast may have missed the eight, but finished the season on a high with a thumping 67-point victory over North Melbourne.

Inclusion Alex Sexton booted six in the absence of Izak Rankine, as the Suns coasted to the 16.18 (114) to 6.11 (47) victory, which barring an all-time West Coast loss to Geelong, has all but assured North Melbourne of the No.1 pick.

ROOS v SUNS Full match coverage and stats

After a joyous 24 hours at Arden Street, securing the signature of master coach Alastair Clarkson for next year, the Roos crashed back to earth with a bang.


Unsurprisingly, the last quarter of the dead rubber was fairly free-flowing, with an element of going through the motions. The Suns flicked the ball around the ground with ease but struggled in front of goal.

Gold Coast was the dominant side in the first half, moving the ball with pace and kicking long where possible.

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But both teams arguably struggled to make an impact in attack, making mistakes with that last crucial kick inside 50, key defenders in either uniform feasting on mis-directed disposal.


The Roos dominated play early after the half-time break, locking the ball inside 50 and forcing repeated entries, but were once again unable to capitalise, kicking four consecutive behinds.

By contrast, the Suns opened the game right up in the remainder of the quarter, booting 6.4 as Alex Davies provided plenty of drive across half-forward and Sexton and Mabior Chol providing a handful deep in attack.


Both Ben Ainsworth and Jason Horne-Francis suffered unfortunate collisions with stray boots in separate incidents, but both returned to the field in the final term after receiving treatment.

Miller's last Brownlow hurrah
In an error-strewn game, the class of Touk Miller was never more evident than 20 minutes into the third term. The Suns had missed a few shots on goal, but Miller danced through a stoppage and snapped truly, taking the margin out to 27 points. The shining Sun will be one of the favourites for the Brownlow, and finished his campaign with 25 disposals and eight clearances.


A Goat(er) of a debut
There were some bright signs for newly appointed coach Alastair Clarkson in interim coach Leigh Adams' last game in charge. Debutant Josh Goater showed plenty of life on the wing, as well as some much-needed poise and composure when more senior teammates were playing with a little too much wild abandon. The 19-year-old made smart decisions in his 21-disposal, five-mark game.

Joshua Goater in action for North Melbourne against Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium on August 20, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Welcome back (again), Cunners
North favourite Ben Cunnington made his long-awaited return from testicular cancer last week, when the Roos were playing in Adelaide. Saturday marked the first time hometown fans could show their appreciation. An organised and rousing round of applause marked Cunnington's entry to the game at the 10-minute mark, coincidentally the bullocking Roo's jumper number.

A young fan holds a sign for Ben Cunnington at the match between North Melbourne and Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium on August 20, 2022. Picture: Getty Images


NORTH MELBOURNE    1.5     3.6     5.9       6.11   (47)
GOLD COAST                4.2     6.8     12.12   16.18  (114)

North Melbourne: Scott, Larkey, Mahony, Greenwood, Davies-Uniacke, Taylor
Gold Coast: Sexton 6, Davies 2, Rosas 2, Anderson, Swallow, Miller, Chol, Ainsworth, Lukosius

North Melbourne: Davies-Uniacke, Simpkin, McKay, Greenwood, Young, Corr
Gold Coast: Anderson, Miller, Sexton, Swallow, Ellis, Ainsworth

North Melbourne: Horne-Francis (head knock)
Gold Coast: Ainsworth (head knock), Lemmens (calf)

North Melbourne: Callum Coleman-Jones (ankle) replaced in selected side by Charlie Comben
Gold Coast: Nil

North Melbourne: Kayne Turner (unused)
Gold Coast: Charlie Constable (replaced Lemmens in the fourth quarter)