IT'S THE worrying trend which continues to hamper Gold Coast's ambition of going from AFL also-rans to pushing for a breakthrough finals appearance.
For so often the Suns match or better their opponents during games only to hand their rivals a match-winning advantage via a poor quarter.
Worryingly, last week's pre-season loss to Brisbane featured a third quarter where the Lions kicked seven unanswered goals as the Suns' 29-point lead late in the first half turned into a 28-point loss.
That defeat came just nine days after Brisbane had kicked the first seven goals in a scratch match at Metricon Stadium which Gold Coast lost by 47 points.
Midfielder David Swallow, confirmed as the Suns' co-captain for 2021 alongside Jarrod Witts on Tuesday, says eliminating those lapses looms as the difference between another campaign in the lower reaches of the ladder or finally moving upwards.
"We certainly feel like our game plan and that, when we're on, it really stacks up," Swallow said.
"We feel like, certainly, the group understands what's required now.
"As we're maturing we're really understanding what needs to get done so hopefully we'll certainly see a shift this year."
Swallow and Witts will lead the Suns in a reduced leadership group this season, with Touk Miller and Sam Collins to act as vice-captains.
The Suns head west to start their campaign against West Coast in Perth and while the season opener at Optus Stadium is a tricky first-up tie, it's also one Swallow is challenging his teammates to step up to.
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"We look at it as an opportunity. We obviously had a good game against them last year at home," he said.
"It'll be different over there, different environment, but certainly looking forward to getting over there and really giving it our best shot."
The Suns will head to Perth with a near full-strength list, with mercurial small forward Izak Rankine training on Tuesday after missing the pre-season match last week with an ankle injury.
However, young ruckman Matt Conroy will miss the rest of the season after suffering a ACL injury on Friday last week. With fellow tall Zac Smith recovering from a PCL strain, co-captain Witts is the only fit ruckman on the Suns' list.