Damien Hardwick talks to his players during the R9 match between Gold Coast and North Melbourne at TIO Stadium on May 11, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

GOLD Coast's perfect record at its home away from home is about to come under serious threat – and coach Damien Hardwick is already preparing.

Since taking home games to TIO Stadium in 2022, the Suns are now five-from-five at the Darwin venue following Saturday night's 68-point thumping of North Melbourne.

SUNS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats

Like they have on each previous occasion, Gold Coast played the hot and humid conditions far better than its opponent.

But on Thursday night it will face a completely different challenge in second-placed Geelong.

It will also be backing up five days after playing in physically taxing conditions (the temperature was close to 30 degrees and humidity touching on 80 per cent for most of the night).

Hardwick said it was a juggling act to prepare for two games in close succession in that weather.


"You've got your eye on this week and next week, hence why we managed some guys," Hardwick said.

"We absolutely love coming up here, but it is a challenge from a logistical point of view. 

"We tried to get some players on the bench at the end. Collo (Sam Collins) got some rest at the end, as did Sam Flanders.

"It's a challenge, but we were happy in the end that we managed to get some minutes rest for those players."


The players that were 'managed' against the Kangaroos were Brayden Fiorini and David Swallow, who will return against Geelong.

Bailey Humphrey, who received high praise from North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson, gathered 12 disposals, including six clearances, in a one-quarter cameo as a substitute and could play bigger minutes against the Cats.

Hardwick said it was a challenge he was looking forward to for his 5-4 outfit.

"They're an outstanding footy club, they're consistently in finals and a club we're striving to become," he said.

"It's an enormous challenge for us next week, but one we can't wait to be a part of."

Hardwick praised his team's midfield, led by co-captains Touk Miller and Jarrod Witts for turning Gold Coast's fortunes around after a poor showing against Brisbane six days earlier.


He believed the strong record in the Top End could be put down to a couple of reasons.

"I think we're a good contested ball side, a good pressure side, which is something Dewy (Stuart Dew) and his team coached into them," he said.

"It suits the style of game we'd like to play. Once we get the ball in that forward half, what we've worked on is keeping it in that forward half."

Clarkson was circumspect following his team's ninth straight loss to begin the season.

He said following a strong first quarter, his team just couldn't convert its opportunities.

"I didn't think the game reflected a 10-goal loss," Clarkson said.

"I thought we played good enough footy to be closer on the scoreboard.

"We had more disposals than they did. We just couldn't convert those opportunities with the ball.

"As the game unfolded, we gave up too much of the ball through the middle of the ground and they really punished us on turnover. Unfortunately, the last quarter, (we were) a bit dead on our feet."


Clarkson pointed to the "little wins", saying Zac Fisher (34 disposals) and Colby McKercher (a third straight match of 30 disposals or more) continued to provide great drive from defence.

"For our supporters at home, they're just the little wins," he said.

"I know they're disappointed we're losing games of footy, but they're the little wins we're searching for with our players.

"At some point in time this club's going to turn this around.

"It's disappointing we're losing games of footy, but as long as we keep blooding these kids and giving them some exposure, the wheel will turn for us eventually."