SUNS Senior Coach Stuart Dew says he believes his team has been able to learn how to overcome momentum swings better in-game after a gritty 27-point win over West Coast at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
Gold Coast were challenged by the plucky Eagles, trailing by as much as 23 points at one stage, before the SUNS were able to mount a spirited comeback in the second half.
Speaking post-match, Dew said he had challenged the group to continue to fight for four quarters and have confidence the result would turn.
“The lads showed a fair bit of heart obviously,” he said.
“(West Coast) clearly came out well and got us on the backfoot but we were able to fight back so the maturity of our group to be able to plug away and not panic was really important to us.
“It shows how connected we are as a as a club and a playing group to be able to find a way back.
“We talked before the game that it might take to the last five or 10 minutes to get over the line and I'm pretty proud of the way we went about it.”
The SUNS were able to work back into the match in the second half through a weight of forward 50 entries.
While not able to capitalise on all the opportunities in front of goal, Dew said it was a good problem to have after 27 scoring shots for the match.
“We'd like to take more of those opportunities (we’re creating),” he said.
“But if this is the problem that we're trying to sort out, taking opportunities rather than creating, I think we'll just keep plugging away and keep working while on the track.”
Third-year midfielder Matt Rowell was a catalyst in the contest, finishing with a career-high 33 disposals and nine clearances.
His work in the middle of the ground alongside Touk Miller, Jarrod Witts, Brayden Fiorini and Noah Anderson was crucial to ensuring the SUNS came out on top.
Rowell said the team’s desire to push the game to the final siren was a large factor in the win.
“I’m really proud of the boys that we were able to get over the line, we showed a lot of grit,” he told SUNS Media post-match.
“I just think we take a lot of confidence (from the win). Quarter after quarter we know we’re going to turn up.
‘We want to be a four-quarter side that’s really fit and I think we showed that today.
“We’ve got a lot of spirit in this team, we can polish a few things but we’ve got that determination and spirit and I think that goes a long way.”
The SUNS will take winning form into a blockbuster Round 2 home match against the reigning premiers Melbourne at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night.
It marks the first AFL home game at Metricon Stadium since July 2021 and Rowell was eager to return to play in front of members and fans on the Gold Coast.
“We’re looking forward to getting back to Metricon with all our fans there,” he said.
“We had some really good fans out here today too at either end of the ground which really spurred us on.
“But we always love playing at Metricon so we’re looking forward to that next week.”