Gold Coast SUNS is just one game outside the top eight after dismantling Hawthorn with a 67-point win in Darwin.
Three first-half goals for Mabior Chol, an outrageous finish from hometown hero Joel Jeffrey and a starring 24-disposal, two-goal, best-on-ground display from Brandon Ellis helped the Suns cruise away for their fifth win of the campaign.
They kicked nine of the first 11 goals and were effectively home before the Hawks woke up at TIO Stadium.
It turned into a genuine party for Gold Coast, with another Darwin local Malcolm Rosas Jnr also enjoying his time back on home turf with three goals.
It was a third win in four games for the Suns and with North Melbourne, Adelaide and Port Adelaide on deck in the next three weeks, they are emerging as a genuine finals contender.
In hindsight, things were over quickly as Ben Ainsworth had the game's first goal when Gold Coast found room on the counterattack.
Rosas quickly found another before Izak Rankine pinched them a 19-1 break inside 15 minutes.
Hawthorn's Luke Breust got his side on the board soon after with a clever snap, but a Chol set shot kept the Suns 18 points clear at the first break.
Gold Coast’s power forward struck twice in the second term as his team broke away, before a long bomb from Jeffrey brought the house down and gave his side a 40-point advantage.
The hits kept coming as a sizzling Touk Miller delivery let Levi Casboult hit the scoreboard, with two late goals to the Hawks only keeping them within 41 points at the half.
Ainsworth snapped home a second for a 55-point lead late in the third quarter from a free kick after Jarman Impey appeared to knee him in the back off the ball, for which the Hawk was immediately reported, before Rosas' second took the margin past 10 goals.
Ellis was best for the Suns but he got plenty of support, with Miller (24 touches) and Lachie Weller (27) among their best.
It was a poor night for the Hawks after their upset of Brisbane last weekend and they have now lost five of their past six games.
Tom Mitchell was in magnetic form with 29 touches, while Chad Wingard was his side's only multiple goalscorer with two majors.
Gold Coast - beautiful one day, perfect the next?
Not since 2014 when the Suns sat in eighth spot after round 16, before Gary Ablett jnr did his shoulder, have finals looked as much a possibility for Gold Coast as they do right now. Yes, they're sitting a win and percentage outside the top eight at the moment, but with North Melbourne next week followed by Adelaide after their bye and only two matches for the rest of the year against teams currently in the eight, the Suns have reason to dream of September. And this time there is no reliance on a star like Ablett that could suddenly derail their season. In fact, with Ben King sitting on the sidelines, the short-to-medium-term future looks sunny for the boys of the coast and their often under-the-pump coach.
Hometown heroes, at last
Mal Rosas Jnr and Joel Jeffrey were the first two players to arrive at the Suns from their Darwin region Academy and both hoped to return to the Top End with Gold Coast last year, but were disappointed when COVID complications cancelled all AFL games in Darwin. Both made it known how important it was to play in front of family and friends in the Territory, so when they were selected to face the Hawks it was a case of smiles all round, with Rosas telling AFL.com.au during the week "I'm as keen as". And there's no doubt the night went well, with Rosas soccering the first of his three goals early in the first quarter and Jeffrey kicking a Goal of the Year contender in the second.
GOLD COAST 4.3 10.8 14.12 18.13 (121)
HAWTHORN 1.3 4.3 5.5 7.12 (54)
Gold Coast: Chol 3, Rosas 3, Ainsworth 2, Ellis 2, Anderson, Casboult, Davies, Jeffrey, Miller, Rankine, Swallow, Weller
Hawthorn: Wingard 2, Breust, Butler, Koschitzke, Lewis, Moore
Gold Coast: Witts, Ellis, Swallow, Miller, Collins, Weller
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Morrison, Sicily, Jiath, Day
Gold Coast: TBC
Hawthorn: Scrimshaw (concussion)
Gold Coast: Charlie Constable, unused
Hawthorn: Finn Maginness, replaced Jack Scrimshaw in the third quarter