JOSH Kennedy kicked eight goals as West Coast finished its season in a blaze of glory on Sunday afternoon, thumping Gold Coast by 52 points at Metricon Stadium.
Despite having their slim finals hopes dashed the previous day by Richmond's upset win over the Sydney Swans, the Eagles racked up their 11th win of the season with a 23.13 (151) to 15.9 (99) victory.
They led by just two points at half-time, but slammed on 11 third quarter goals – four to Kennedy - to blow the game open.
In a game light on for defensive pressure, Kennedy towelled up helpless Suns full-back Rory Thompson for the second time this season.
He was near unstoppable on the lead, and with silver service from a midfield under very little pressure, was able to better his tally of seven kicked against the same opponent in round 13.
Mark LeCras added four goals and Nic Naitanui an equal career-high three as his partnership in the ruck with Scott Lycett started strongly in the first game of the post-Dean Cox era.
Luke Shuey (27 disposals and nine clearances) was destructive in the midfield, while Chris Masten (29) and Matt Priddis (27) were prolific.
"We were a little concerned with the emotional baggage, not just this week but last week as well, but you put yourself in that position when you don’t control your own destiny,” he said.
“I thought, in particular, in the third quarter we responded well."
For the Suns, Jack Martin was a one-man highlight reel, playing by far the best game of his disrupted first season to finish with 19 touches and four goals.
One passage of play in the second quarter captured everything good about the 19-year-old.
He ran 60m flat out to take a mark at half-back, delivered it perfectly and then took off on another 60m arcing run forward where he took another mark at half-forward.
He then put the ball on the chest of leading Tom Lynch – all in the space of 30 seconds.
Throw in a high-leaping pack mark in the third quarter, perfect 40m pass on the left foot to Harley Bennell and another big leap and mark at full stretch, and Martin showed a little bit of everything.
Midfielders Michael Rischitelli (34) and Dion Prestia (30) also got plenty of the ball.
Suns coach Guy McKenna
said that despite the side missing the top eight, the season had largely been a success.
He said the second-half fadeout against the Eagles was a disappointing finish.
"Today's result is summed up by the second half of the season - not being able to compete for the full four quarters," he said.
"I thought we'd moved past that.
"Contested footy (was the problem). We were plus 16 in the first half … and minus 13 in the next quarter. That's our DNA."
But with finals out of the equation for both teams, they let their hair down and played a carefree and exciting brand of footy that ultimately suited the Eagles.
There were 12 first-quarter goals – six apiece – as players ran free with minimal defensive pressure.
The only bit of aggression came when Kennedy was reported for a strike on Suns midfielder David Swallow.
Swallow was tracking a loose ball back when Kennedy clumsily hit him high, sparking an instant remonstration from Thompson that brought players rushing in from both teams.
It was a momentary bit of niggle in an otherwise free-wheeling game.
In the end, Gold Coast (10-12) won just three of its final 13 matches.
Shannon Hurns marks strongly in front of Danny Stanley. Picture: AFL Media
GOLD COAST 6.3 9.6 11.8 15.9 (99)
WEST COAST 6.2 9.8 20.10 23.13 (151)
Gold Coast: Martin 4, Lynch 3, Matera 2, Rischitelli, Day, Bennell, Swallow, Sexton, Lonergan
West Coast: Kennedy 8, LeCras 4, Naitanui 3, Selwood, Shuey, Lycett, Darling, McGinnity, Hill, Cripps, Butler
Gold Coast: Martin, Swallow, Lynch, Rischitelli, Prestia
West Coast: Kennedy, LeCras, Naitanui, Shuey, Masten
Gold Coast: Nil
West Coast: Nil
Gold Coast: Jesse Lonergan for Jack Leslie in the third quarter
West Coast: Elliot Yeo for Scott Selwood in the third quarter
Reports: Josh Kennedy (West Coast) for striking David Swallow in the second quarter
Umpires: Donlon, McInerney and Mitchell