GOLD Coast has clung on to record a dramatic four-point win over the Western Bulldogs and keep its march towards a finals appearance on track.
Holding a 19-point advantage during the third quarter, the Suns watched their lead whittle to a single point in the final term before steadying to win 7.6 (48) to 7.2 (44) at Heritage Bank Stadium.
SUNS v BULLDOGS Full match coverage and stats
It was their third straight victory, but didn't come without some heart-stopping moments.
Charlie Rowbottom (28 disposals, including 18 contested) was again a colossus around the contest, while defender Meara Girvan was crucial in the dying stages, winning one-on-one contests and saving the Suns on numerous occasions.
After a slow start it was a four-goal second quarter that proved decisive, setting up the match-winning advantage.
Jamie Stanton and captain Tara Bohanna kicked two goals apiece, while Claudia Whitfort and Lucy Single also had big nights.
Despite losing the clearance count 29-16, the Bulldogs moved the ball beautifully for large periods of the match, generating 37 inside 50s to 32, but they were unable to put enough scoreboard pressure on.
Dee Berry was magnificent in defeat with 21 disposals and a goal, as was Isabella Grant.
After the Bulldogs fought their way to a six-point lead at the first change, the Suns blew the game open in the second term.
Built on the back of some excellent pressure in the front half of the ground, Bohanna got the scoring spree going with a clever left foot banana before Jamie Stanton gave the hosts a lead with a strong mark and goal.
Stanton added another moments later with a terrific right foot snap in traffic and when Jac Dupuy grabbed the ball from a ruck contest and converted from close range, Gold Coast had a 14-point lead at the half.
Things stayed largely as they were through the third quarter, with Kirsty Lamb's long-range finish breathing life into the game before the final change.
Single v Blackburn
For the second match in succession, young Sun Lucy Single was given a tough run-with assignment, and for the second match in succession, she can leave with her head held high. Last week it was curtailing the influence of Collingwood's Bri Davey, and tonight it was a battle with Bulldogs superstar Ellie Blackburn. Although Blackburn (20) got a good share of the ball, Single (22 and nine tackles) was able to hurt her in the other direction and limit her impact in the front half of the ground. Coach Cam Joyce might have found a handy weapon there.
Time and again when the Suns were under pressure they could always fall back on winning the ball at the coalface. With Rowbottom and Whitfort winning seven clearances apiece, they were able to either get the ball going forward for the Suns or steady the ship when they were deep in defence. Single again showed she was a valuable midfield contributor, while Ali Drennan (20, including three clearances) played her best game for the season.
Gold Coast will try to make it four on the trot when it travels to Adelaide next Sunday to take on the unbeaten Crows at Unley Oval at 3.35pm ACST. The Bulldogs have just a five-day break before hosting St Kilda at Whitten Oval on Friday night from 7.15pm.
GOLD COAST 1.0 5.3 7.3 7.6 (48)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.0 3.1 5.2 7.2 (44)
Gold Coast: Stanton 2, Bohanna 2, Membrey, McLaughlin, Dupuy
Western Bulldogs: McFarlane 2, Lamb 2, Woodley, McLeod, Berry
Gold Coast: Rowbottom, Girvan, Single, Whitfort, Drennan, Saad
Western Bulldogs: Berry, Georgostathis, Grant, Wilcox, Blackburn, Fitzgerald
Gold Coast: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Lagioia (concussion), Moody (shoulder)
Crowd: 1181 at Heritage Bank Stadium