Matt Rowell played one of his best games since 2020 and Jack Lukosius proved he could be a dangerous forward as Gold Coast completed a terrific pre-season with a 23-point win over Geelong at Metricon Stadium on Monday night.
The SUNS missed a ton of easy second-quarter shots at goal, and also gift-wrapped a few to the Cats with some ill-discipline, but roared home in the final quarter to win 13.17 (95) to 11.6 (72).
The SUNS have completed a solid preseason after they also beat Port Adelaide in a practice match 10 days ago.
Following shoulder and knee surgeries the past two seasons, Rowell was fantastic, looking fit and full of confidence in gathering 27 disposals, which included eight clearances and seven tackles.
With Ben King (ACL) out for the season, the new-look tall timber inside 50 functioned well after a slow start, with Lukosius kicking three goals and putting one on a platter for Mabior Chol with a wonderful pass.
Noah Anderson (25 disposals), Ben Ainsworth (four goals) and the irresistible captain Touk Miller (31 and two goals) were also influential.
It's hard to read too much into Geelong's performance, missing a number of its best players, but they were thoroughly outplayed.
Cam Guthrie and Tom Atkins battled hard, while Jeremy Cameron (three goals) looks in great touch.
Gold Coast kicked the first three goals of the night and should have led by more at quarter-time but hurt themselves with ill-discipline.
From a set shot at goal just 20m out, Izak Rankine gave away a free kick that led to quick Geelong transition and a goal to Patrick Dangerfield.
Moments later Wil Powell gave away a 50m 'stand' rule penalty and Joel Selwood's conversion from the top of the goalsquare reduced the Cats' deficit to seven points.
The SUNS then kicked a 0.9 in the second quarter, with seven of the shots relatively easy, to trail at the main break.
Weight of numbers won in the end though.
Suns recruits Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult showed enough grunt inside 50 to please their supporters. Chol kicked a goal and looked good in his back-up ruck minutes before being iced at half-time, while Casboult split packs and caused the spillages that led to the opening two goals.
Round one chance
It's fair to say Jarrod Witts is almost completely back from the ruptured ACL that wiped out most of his 2021. The Gold Coast co-captain had a terrific return to competitive footy, playing into the final quarter and finishing with seven disposals and some clinical tap-work to his midfielders. He will now certainly play in the opening round against West Coast.
A concern for each club with Mabior Chol coming off at half-time with ice on his hamstring. Gold Coast expects wingman Jeremy Sharp to be available for the season opener after he missed with a tight hamstring.
If you were wondering if Touk Miller (MID, $1,024,000) is worth spending the big bucks on, his performance against Geelong should answer that. 130 points thanks to 32 disposals, eight marks, two marks and two goals in a typical effort where he works extremely hard to get from contest to contest. Matt Rowell (MID, $464,000) has been high on the radar for many after a disappointing sophomore season which was hampered by injury. Those Fantasy tons he scored in his first few games were added to with 101. He racked up 27 disposals and seven tackles in a 'don't overthink it, lock him in' performance.
GOLD COAST 3.3 3.12 9.13 13.17 (95)
GEELONG 2.2 5.3 8.4 11.6 (72)
Gold Coast: Ainsworth 4, Lukosius 3, Miller 2, Chol, Flanders, Holman, Sexton
Geelong: Cameron 3, Dangerfield 2, Dahlhaus, C.Guthrie, Holmes, Narkle, Selwood, Stengle
Gold Coast: Miller, Anderson, Rowell, Ainsworth, Witts, Lukosius
Geelong: C.Guthrie, Atkins, Cameron, de Koning, Selwood
Gold Coast: Chol (hamstring)
Geelong: Bews (head)