Kysaiah Pickett celebrates victory after Melbourne's round eight win over Gold Coast at Heritage Bank Stadium on May 6, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

GOLD Coast threw everything at Melbourne on Saturday night but came up just short of an upset as the Demons held on by five points in a thriller at Heritage Bank Stadium.

With less than 30 seconds remaining, Suns defender Darcy Macpherson had a set shot from 40m that could have earned his team a draw, but sprayed his effort wide to the right.

SUNS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

Melbourne hung on to win 13.12 (90) to 13.7 (85) in front of a parochial Gold Coast crowd.


After the Demons got out to a 15-point lead early in the final quarter of what had been an intense, see-sawing battle, the Suns mustered one last effort after defender Charlie Ballard was stretchered from the field with a neck injury.

Noah Anderson, clearly the best player on the ground, kicked a goal to close the margin to nine points, and when Mal Rosas jnr kicked his fourth goal minutes later, a grandstand finish was in order.

Anderson finished with 36 disposals, 10 clearances and three goal assists to go along with his goal in a Herculean two-way performance.


His prowess and quick hands around the stoppages helped the Suns earn a 42-36 clearance advantage and 149-122 contested possession edge.

The Suns could consider themselves unlucky to not walk away with some points, on the wrong end of a number of contentious 50-50 decisions.

But the Demons did enough to move to a 6-2 win-loss record, with Christian Petracca (26), Max Gawn and Clayton Oliver (28) all having enough of an influence to earn their team the four premiership points.

They controlled much of the final term with the game in the balance and produced a number of desperate efforts – including a fantastic diving spoil on the wing by Trent Rivers – to hold the Suns at bay.


Melbourne shot out to a three-goal lead early in the match as it made the most of every foray forward.

ON THE UP Suns' 'competitiveness and heart' praised

Jacob van Rooyen, Kysaiah Pickett and Brodie Grundy all kicked truly before Gold Coast wrestled back the momentum with a relentless hunt around the contest.


Matt Rowell got on top around the stoppages, while Rosas jnr (who kicked three goals in the first half) finished nicely.

Melbourne was the slightly more composed team as tempers frayed, kicking goals right on the quarter-time siren and then again just before the half to take a seven-point lead to the main break.

Late in the second quarter the teams came together with some push-and-shove, with Gawn and Witts at the centre of things after Mabior Chol kicked a goal and celebrated with intent.


The third quarter was more of the same back and forth action, with the intensity and pressure from both teams seemingly rising the longer the match wore on.

Anderson had 12 disposals for the term, lifting his team, while Angus Brayshaw had nine for Melbourne as Ben King's goal on the siren levelled scores at the final change.


Rowell-Anderson one-two punch
Against one of, if not the, best midfields in the competition, Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson continued to enhance their burgeoning reputations with another outstanding showing. Anderson was the best player on the ground and Rowell's 11 clearances were enormous against Oliver, Petracca and Jack Viney. Seventeen of Anderson's 36 disposals – both match-highs – were contested, while Rowell earned 13 of his 18 the hard way.

Kade Chandler's magic finish
The young Melbourne forward is having a great season and added another highlight to his resume with a brilliant first quarter goal. With the ball running into the Demons' forward 50, Chandler sprinted after it, picked it up, evaded Wil Powell and Sean Lemmens and then calmly swung on to his left boot and curled home a finish from 40m for a spectacular goal.


Ballard leaves the field on a stretcher
Midway through the fourth quarter, Gold Coast defender Charlie Ballard left the field on a stretcher after an incident involving young Dee Jacob van Rooyen. Ballard had plonked himself under a high ball close to goal and was expecting to take an uncontested mark before van Rooyen made a late, clumsy challenge to spoil. It appeared the young forward's arm made contact high with Ballard, sending him crumpling to the ground. Play was halted for five minutes while he was assisted from the field.



GOLD COAST     3.3     7.4     11.6     13.7 (85)
MELBOURNE     4.4     8.5     11.6     13.12 (90)

Gold Coast: Rosas 4, Casboult 2, Chol 2, King 2, Anderson, Ellis, Lukosius
Gawn 2, Grundy 2, Pickett 2, Bowey, Chandler, Jordon, Neal-Bullen, Petracca, Sparrow, van Rooyen

Gold Coast: Anderson, Macpherson, Ballard, Powell, Rowell, Lemmens
Melbourne: Petracca, Gawn, Oliver, Brayshaw, Sparrow, May

Gold Coast: Ballard (head), Long (leg)
Melbourne: Nil

Gold Coast: Nil
Daniel Turner replaced Michael Hibberd (managed) in the selected side

Gold Coast: James Tsitas (replaced Sam Flanders in the fourth quarter)
Melbourne: James Harmes (replaced Daniel Turner in the fourth quarter)

Crowd: 11,440 at Heritage Bank Stadium