Gold Coast celebrates a Matt Rowell goal during its clash against West Coast in round nine, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

GOLD Coast buried a hapless West Coast in one of the least competitive quarters of the season to set up a 70-point win on Friday night and inflict more pain on the wounded Eagles. 

The Suns produced their highest scoring quarter since 2017 in the second term, booting eight unanswered goals at the Eagles' Optus Stadium home to turn a competitive match into a procession, eventually winning 16.17 (113) to 6.7 (43).

EAGLES v SUNS Full match coverage and stats

Led by brilliant midfielder Matt Rowell, the Suns dominated contested ball (43-16), clearances (14-3) and inside 50s (17-5) in a brutal quarter that could not be explained totally by the continuing injury crisis at West Coast.   

They then weathered a brief third-quarter rally from the Eagles before kicking away to record their fourth win of the season, and their third from their past four games in an impressive patch of form ahead of next week’s QClash. 


Rowell was a force in the midfield, fighting off the tight attention of first-year opponent Reuben Ginbey to finish with 29 disposals (13 contested), six clearances and a massive 17 tackles.  

He set the tone early on, winning the first centre clearance and then kicking the opening goal from a forward 50 stoppage when he powered through congestion with brute force. 


Sidekick Noah Anderson also contended with heavy attention from midfielder Xavier O'Neill but was effective with 27 disposals and seven clearances, albeit down on his brilliant recent best. 

Key forward Ben King cashed in with four goals, while the Suns got an exciting look at the potential of prized draftee Bailey Humphrey, who was electric at times with 20 touches and a goal. 


Key defender Charlie Ballard got the better of opponent Jack Darling and peeled off to take an equal record 10 intercept marks in another excellent performance for the 23-year-old, with winners all over the ground. 

Ruckman Jarrod Witts played a key role in the overall clearance domination (41-30) with 48 hitouts, further exposing the Eagles' midfield weakness without their injured stars.

It was a familiar tale for the home team, losing heavily and assessing the physical cost as Darling (arm) and Jamaine Jones (broken nose) ended the game with injuries. 

EAGLES DOWN West Coast's injury crisis worsens, 'unbelievable' Sun praised

Premiership defender Liam Duggan, who was handed the captaincy for the night, stood tall with 32 disposals, while key forward Oscar Allen competed hard for two goals from limited opportunities. 

Scores were level when the brilliant forward kicked his first early in the second quarter and the Eagles had reason to believe, but the Suns' onslaught came quickly and ended any hopes of a rare victory.


Ballard extends injured Darling's slump 
The Suns' game early on was built on their ability to intercept the ball and build from half-back, with defender Charlie Ballard a force in the air. The 23-year-old, who ranked equal fifth in the AFL for intercept marks (3.6) ahead of round nine, took four in the opening quarter, including two in contests with the out-of-form Darling. The Eagles have backed Darling to turn his form around, and he looked like he might work into the game when he pushed up the ground early in the second quarter and set up Oscar Allen's goal with a clever inside 50. But it was ultimately another goalless game for the key forward, who battled through a left arm injury in the second half.  

Not good enough, regardless of injuries
West Coast midfielder Tim Kelly captured the mood well when he headed to the rooms at half-time and gave broadcaster Fox Footy an honest assessment of the opening half. "It really isn't good enough," a passionate Kelly said. "We've got to come out in the second half and give our fans something to cheer about." The Eagles' challenges with personnel are clear, and the team has shown an ability to fight through that adversity at stages this year. They did that again after half-time. But Friday night's second quarter cost them and it was not good enough, regardless of the circumstances.  


WEST COAST         2.3      3.5        5.7          6.7 (43)
GOLD COAST         3.2     11.7      11.10     16.17 (113)

West Coast: Allen 2, West, Petruccelle, Kelly, Clark
Gold Coast:
King 4, Tsitas 2, Swallow 2, Lukosius 2, Chol 2, Rowell, Rosas, Humphrey, Day

West Coast: Duggan, Ginbey, Allen, Witherden, Kelly 
Gold Coast: Rowell, Witts, Ballard, Humphrey, Swallow, Anderson, King

West Coast: Jones (broken nose), Darling (arm) 
Gold Coast: Nil 

West Coast: Luke Edwards (replaced Jamaine Jones at half-time)
Gold Coast: James Tsitas (replaced Sean Lemmens in the fourth quarter)  

Crowd: 36,219 at Optus Stadium