GOLD Coast has muscled its way into the finals picture, upsetting Fremantle by 36 points at a wet Metricon Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Suns trailed by two points at quarter-time but kept the Dockers goalless the next two terms to run away convincing 10.9 (69) to 4.9 (33) winners.
It was Fremantle's first loss since round two against St Kilda.
SUNS v DOCKERS Full match coverage and stats
Gold Coast's second upset win in as many weeks – after beating Sydney eight days earlier – takes it to a 4-5 record and came on the back of suffocating pressure and a resolute backline that warded off a whopping 64 inside 50s.
Co-captains Jarrod Witts and Touk Miller (34 disposals) were fantastic in the middle of the ground, leading their team around the stoppages in rainy and slippery conditions.
Gold Coast won the clearance count 46-30 and contested possessions by 17 to beat the Dockers at their own game.
Izak Rankine played possibly the best game of his short career, showing a defensive desperation to match his offensive flair.
Rankine's numbers, 18 disposals, of which 14 were contested, tell only part of his influence, with 11 score involvements more accurately painting his impact.
Mabior Chol kicked four goals, Sam Collins led a magnificent display from the back six, while Wil Powell (21 touches) was also influential.
The size of the margin was stunning, particularly as the Dockers had the majority of play to lead by two points at quarter-time.
They had 19 inside 50s, generating just two goals, but from then on Gold Coast kept a clean sheet in the back 50 until very late in the match and monstered the red-hot Dockers midfield.
The game turned after quarter-time as Gold Coast began to win the hand-to-hand combat, allowing it to move the ball freely and give its forwards extra opportunities.
Big contest wins by David Swallow, Collins and Matt Rowell seemed to inspire their teammates.
Swallow kicked the first of the second quarter to give the Suns the lead, before Chol showed his skill in the tough conditions, kicking two goals to bolster the advantage to 19 points.
Chol on a roll
With rainy, humid conditions turning the ball into a virtual piece of soap for most of the afternoon, it didn't seem like a good day for key forwards. However, Mabior Chol had a big impact for the Suns, bringing the ball to ground in a marking contest for Jarrod Witts to kick the game's first goal, and then kicking two himself in Gold Coast's strong second term. Chol also gave Witts a rest in the ruck and finished with four goals to continue a fine first season after moving from Richmond.
Gold Coast does a Freo on Freo
The Dockers have built their season on a stingy defence, but it was the Suns who were water-tight in this contest. Freo pumped the ball inside 50 on 19 occasions in the first quarter, but led by Sam Collins and the reliable spoiling of Rory Thompson, Gold Coast conceded just two goals. It only got better – or worse for the Dockers – from there. With 28 inside 50s the next two terms, the visitors went goalless, and only late goals to Rory Lobb and Sean Darcy padded the score. Fremantle won the inside 50 count 64-36, but bombed the ball long far too often.
Where there's a Will, there's a way
Fremantle's cheer squad set the tone for Will Brodie's return to Metricon Stadium with the words "Where there's a Will, there's a way" finishing off its banner message for the Dockers to run through. Brodie, who played 25 games in five seasons at the Suns before being traded at the end of 2021, started well, getting the game's first centre clearance and winning a free kick for pinning Matt Rowell shortly after. Brodie finished with 27 disposals and eight tackles to be one of his team's best.
GOLD COAST 2.1 5.5 6.8 10.9 (69)
FREMANTLE 2.3 2.4 2.5 4.9 (33)
Gold Coast: Chol 4, Casboult 2, Witts, Swallow, Anderson, Fiorini
Fremantle: Erasmus, Frederick, Darcy, Lobb
Gold Coast: Miller, Rankine, Witts, Collins, Powell, Swallow, Ellis
Fremantle: Serong, Logue, Brayshaw, Brodie
Gold Coast: Nil
Gold Coast: Darcy Macpherson (unused)
Fremantle: Brandon Walker (unused)
Crowd: 6136 at Metricon Stadium