A late surge by the Gold Coast SUNS AFLW team wasn’t enough to secure a win against Melbourne at Casey Fields in Round 5 in what was a gritty match from both sides.

It was a hotly contested game which saw an AFLW record for the most combined tackles in a match (178), vaulting the SUNS back to be ranked number one in the league for average tackles per match.

SUNS AFLW Head Coach Cameron Joyce said he was proud of the group’s efforts while still recognising room for improvement.

“I thought on one hand, it was a really brave effort from our girls,” Joyce said.

“I think we certainly put them under pressure.

“But also too I don’t reckon we can ignore some of the areas that we that we do need to sharpen up on.

“They were able to dominate some of the key statistics in the game and certainly run the footy a bit and get outside us a little bit at times too.

“But as I said to the girls as well, it’s a two-goal game in Casey against Melbourne, off the back of a loss, potentially a top four or five team and we're going reasonably the distance with them.

“From that point of view, it gives them great confidence.”

Joyce said being able to pressure the opposition was one of the trademarks of the SUNS’ gameplan.

“We certainly pride ourselves on our pressure, but also too as a team, we want to be able to build a reputation to be hard to play against,” Joyce said.

“We're making some inroads into that, we've certainly got heaps of growth and development to go in that.

“It's certainly not there yet, but we're trying to get on the path to that.”

Being able to compete with one of the competition’s foundation clubs and a premiership fancy was another key takeaway for the group.

The SUNS now sit 2-2 after four matches and Joyce said the club would continue to search for improvement each week.

“At the start of the year we were pretty clear on our improvement, both as a team in terms of our game style and also too individually being able to grow not just our younger players, but also our older players,” he said.

“Where that takes us, who knows?

“But we've still got plenty of work to do and the Cats coming off a win last night, next week for us is the next challenge.

“The season goes pretty quick this one being 10 rounds, so we can't sit in this one for too long, we’ve got to keep moving.”