Ben Long celebrates a goal with teammates during the round 16 match between Gold Coast and Collingwood at People First Stadium, June 29, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

GOLD Coast has stared down the Boogeyman and won – holding off a charging Collingwood to keep its finals dreams alive with an 11-point triumph at a packed People First Stadium on Saturday.

Leading by 26 points at the last change, the Suns watched on as the Magpies made their customary comeback, taking the lead with four minutes remaining via a Nathan Kreuger goal.

SUNS v MAGPIES Full match coverage and stats

But unlike so many teams before them in the same position, Gold Coast responded. Ben Long kicked a goal from 50m on the run to regain the lead before Ben Ainsworth iced one of the best wins in club history with a left foot snap.

The 14.17 (101) to 13.12 (90) triumph moved the Suns to an 8-7 win-loss record to keep them in touch with the top eight.


Although not easy, they deserved the win in front of their third largest home crowd in history of 23,029.

After the midfield had its colours lowered by Fremantle just six days earlier, Damien Hardwick's engine room responded in emphatic fashion.


Noah Anderson finished with 39 disposals, Sam Flanders – in a full-time on-ball role – had 33 and co-captain Touk Miller was tireless with 31.

Ben King kicked four goals, while Jack Lukosius, Long and Ainsworth kicked two apiece.


At the other end of the ground, Sam Collins was enormous, while Bodhi Uwland continued his rapid ascension with another polished performance, including a huge one-on-one win that set-up Long's late go-ahead goal.

This was a thrilling, end-to-end contest, and again the Magpies played a huge role.

Despite its heavy deficit at three-quarter time, they always looked likely to make a charge, able to transition the ball from one end of the ground to the other consistently throughout the contest.

Jordan De Goey's magnificent running goal from the boundary line, followed by a piece of Nick Daicos genius moments later, in which he was involved three times in the build-up before a glorious right foot finish, had the Magpies believing.


The duo were incredible all night, but fell on the wrong side this time.

Following a free-wheeling, four goals apiece first quarter, Gold Coast wrestled the ascendency in the second.

The ball lived in their forward half for large periods, and eventually Collingwood's defence cracked.


Ben Long roved an exquisite Jarrod Witts tap at a forward 50 stoppage and nailed his snap, before executing a bone-rattling hit on Billy Frampton that led to a Jack Lukosius goal.

When Will Graham snapped truly after some more suffocating forward pressure, the home team had a 20-point lead at the main break.

They built it to 32 in the third quarter with King kicking his third and fourth goals, but the Magpies continued to take the game on and stay within striking distance at the final change.


Still perfect at home
Perhaps it is one of the toughest road trips in the AFL now? Gold Coast is now eight from eight at its two home grounds (six at People First Stadium and two at Darwin's TIO Stadium) following the nail-biting win over the Pies. They are the only unbeaten team at home in the AFL following Sydney's loss to Fremantle on Saturday. With Port Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne remaining at home this season, could the Suns run the card? 

Jack Lukosius after the round 16 match between Gold Coast and Collingwood at People First Stadium, June 29, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Flanders' midfield move a masterstroke
After spending most of 2024 at half-back, Sam Flanders was moved to his preferred midfield role for the final quarter of last Sunday's loss against Fremantle. Following a strong impact there, coach Damien Hardwick started the former No.11 draft pick in the middle against the Magpies – and Flanders delivered. Able to win the ball inside with a match-high 15 contested possessions, and link on the outside, Flanders finished with 33 touches and a goal for the match to be one of the most influential players on the field.

Sam Flanders celebrates a goal during the round 16 match between Gold Coast and Collingwood at People First Stadium, June 29, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Long's bone-rattling team lifter
Midway through the second quarter as Gold Coast hammered away inside 50 for little reward, Ben Long took matters into his own hands. As Billy Frampton leapt to receive a handball, the Suns forward lined up the exposed Magpie and executed a bone-rattling tackle that forced the ball free and led to a Jack Lukosius goal. It gave the home team some reward for effort and inspired a strong finish to the half.

Ben Long during the round 16 match between Gold Coast and Collingwood at People First Stadium, June 29, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

GOLD COAST            4.2      8.6      12.11  14.17 (101)
COLLINGWOOD        4.3      5.4      8.9      13.12 (90)

Gold Coast: King 4, Lukosius 2, Long 2, Ainsworth 2, Holman, Flanders, Day, Graham
Collingwood: Mihocek 2, De Goey 2, N.Daicos 2, Pendlebury, Lipinski, Kreuger, Howe, Hoskin-Elliott, Hill, J.Daicos

Gold Coast: Witts, Flanders, Anderson, Uwland, Miller, Long, King
Collingwood: N.Daicos, De Goey, Howe, J.Daicos, Sidebottom

Gold Coast: Nil
Collingwood: McCreery (calf)

Gold Coast: Bailey Humphrey (replaced David Swallow in the third quarter)
Collingwood: Joe Richards (replaced Beau McCreery in the third quarter)

Crowd: 23,029 at People First Stadium