A CAREER-best four-goal haul by Izak Rankine has sparked Gold Coast's 37-point win over Hawthorn at the SCG.
X-factor Rankine enjoyed a welcome return to form on Saturday night to help the Suns explode out of the blocks, piling on the first 28 points before kicking on to snap a three-game losing streak and ice a rare victory against the Hawks.
SUNS v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats
Ben King also kicked four majors as Gold Coast ran out convincing 17.11 (113) to 11.10 (76) victors, marking their biggest total under coach Stuart Dew since he took over the reins in 2018.
Rankine - the No.3 pick in the 2018 draft - had come under criticism for failing to back up from last year's standout campaign as the Suns slid down the AFL ladder to 15th.
Indeed, the small forward's 2021 highlights reel had made for brief viewing, booting just nine majors in 10 games and averaging just over 12 touches each outing before lining up against the lowly Hawks.
But Rankine bounced back to his best in Sydney to kick three goals in the first term alone and set up only the Gold Coast’s' third win in 14 games against Hawthorn.
'I CAN'T TAKE CREDIT' Dew praises star's work ethic
King’s bagful moves the young full-forward to 32 majors and third spot in the race for the Coleman Medal after 11 rounds.
Touk Miller (37 touches, nine marks), Brandon Ellis (28 touches, 11 marks) and Jack Lukosius (27 disposals, 14 marks) were inspirational, while Alex Sexton kicked three goals.
In contrast there was only more misery for Hawthorn (2-9) who slumped to their fifth straight defeat and ninth in 10 games.
Veteran Shaun Burgoyne had 15 disposals in his return match after the 38-year-old had missed the past four weeks with an ankle complaint.
After losing Kyle Hartigan to suspension and Jaeger O'Meara to concussion ahead of the game the Hawks couldn't eclipse the Suns despite the best efforts of Ben McEvoy (two goals), Dylan Moore (two majors, 18 disposals), Liam Shiels (26 touches) and Chad Wingard (24 disposals).
The match was originally scheduled as a Gold Coast home game in Darwin, and initially called off following Melbourne's latest COVID-19 outbreak, before being relocated to the SCG.
Despite the last minute change the Suns looked at home from the outset, kicking the first four goals and at one stage leading the inside-50 count 14-0.
Hawthorn didn't get on the board until the 21st minute before launching a late fightback to trail 29-20 at the first interval.
The lead blew out to 28 points at the main break as Gold Coast kicked 10.8 (68) - the most the Suns had compiled by half-time this season.
King (ribs) and ball magnet Noah Anderson (ankle) suffered injury scares, while Rankine kicked his fourth to help the Suns enjoy a 88-53 buffer by three-quarter time.
A proud man would be proud
Sir Doug Nicholls Round means a lot to the entire football community, but it goes straight to the heart of Indigenous players across the league. Izak Rankine had been under the microscope after an opening to 2021 that fell short of many pundits’ expectations, but he dug deep on Saturday night and reminded fans why he’s considered an elite talent. Chad Wingard played one of his best games for the year, and veteran Shaun Burgoyne also relished his return on this most relevant of rounds. It’s always good to be reminded of what Australia’s First People bring to Australia’s first game and, thankfully, we get to do it all again next week. Sir Doug would be proud.
September dreaming too far away?
It was a win against the team currently sitting second-last on the ladder and only shuffled them up a rung or two, but when the Suns are on song it’s hard to think they aren’t a chance to break their finals duck. The ability has always been there, held back by chronic inconsistency, yet every game under the belt of this young list puts them a step closer to September and while no one will be talking up Spring footy just yet, Stuart Dew knows he’s got the raw talent to threaten all comers. Matt Rowell’s much-anticipated return may yet make post-bye challengers a little nervous.
Clarko dreaming of moving away?
Every week that passes poorly for both Hawthorn and Collingwood has the volume turning up on 'Clarkson to the Pies' whispers, and round 11 will get a few more callers to talkback radio come Monday morning. Clarko says he’s in it for the long run, but with a list with a lot of holes, a president with a lot of opinions and a rumoured courtier with a lot of dollars, maybe it’s time to consider a change of scene for the master coach. Mark Williams once said he regretted staying at the Power as their fortunes and his stocks plummeted, acknowledging the glow of success only lasts so long. Clarkson’s still got the gleam of gold, maybe he should cash in while the rates are high.
GOLD COAST 4.5 10.8 13.10 17.11 (113)
HAWTHORN 3.2 6.4 8.5 11.10 (76)
Gold Coast: Rankine 4, King 4, Sexton 3, Burgess, Holman, Lukosius, Miller, Weller, Ellis
Hawthorn: McEvoy 2, Lewis 2, Moore 2, Phillips, Reeves, Worpel, Breust, Greaves
Gold Coast: Lukosius, Miller, Rankine, Ellis, Markov, King
Hawthorn: Wingard, McEvoy, Moore, Shiels, Burgoyne
Gold Coast: Noah Anderson (ankle)
Gold Coast: Josh Corbett (replaced Noah Anderson)
Hawthorn: Harry Morrison (unused)