Charlie Rowbottom has starred yet again as Gold Coast withstood a late surge from Port Adelaide to register its third win of the season.
In a match that was defined by pressure, Gold Coast claimed victory 7.4 (46) to 5.2 (32).
Players had to navigate a "strange breeze" according to Port Adelaide coach Lauren Arnell, as much of the first half was played between the arcs of Bond University.
A lack of discipline from Gold Coast late in the game narrowed the margin to 14 points after the side led by 32 at three-quarter time. Centre bounces became crucial in the final quarter as it became a shootout directly from the middle as the sides exchanged blows.
Former SUN Brittany Perry kicked two for Port Adelaide to really get the visitors going after being held goalless until the eve of three-quarter time, but a four-goal final term ultimately wasn't enough.
Rowbottom dictated play from the middle, gathering another 26 disposals and eight clearances as she used her strength and power to set up teammates, while Alex Ballard was Port Adelaide's best, repeatedly intercepting the SUNS' forward forays and using her elite foot skills coming out of the back half.
After a tight, contested opening half, it was a late flurry from the SUNS against the breeze in the second quarter that broke the game open. The home side found clean, quick movement out of stoppages and, vitally, made smart decisions when going inside 50.
Claudia Whitfort was a key driver of this, racking up four clearances, five inside 50s and 289m gained to half time.
Jac Dupuy continued the trend into the third quarter, kicking two goals to stretch the margin going into the final term.
The SUNS now sit just one spot out of the top eight on percentage, making a genuine push for just their second ever finals series.
What a duo
SUNS fans have plenty to be excited about both now and long into the future as young duo Charlie Rowbottom and Claudia Whitfort took charge through the middle of the ground. Rowbottom's strength at the contest then power to find space is a rare quality in AFLW, while Whitfort's ability to spread from stoppages to the outside and drive the ball forward is incredibly valuable. The pair combined for 43 disposals, 12 clearances and 682m gained in what was an impressive outing for the SUNS.
When Sarah Perkins made the move to Hawthorn in the off-season and with Maddison Levi remaining inactive, there were concerns over who would support Tara Bohanna as a key tall up forward. Those concerns were unfounded as Jac Dupuy saw a chance and took it with both hands. Dupuy is strong in the air and very clean by hand, but even more importantly she looks to create goals from even the smallest of opportunities. She finished the game with two goals, taking her tally this season to six as she becomes increasingly more dangerous for opposing defences.
Port Adelaide will now firm itself for the biggest game in the South Australian footy fixture, the first ever AFLW Showdown against the Crows at Adelaide Oval on Friday evening. The SUNS, meanwhile, will journey to Victoria to face a Richmond side that is steadily gaining momentum at the Swinburne Centre on Saturday night.
GOLD COAST 0.2 3.2 6.3 7.4 (46)
PORT ADELAIDE 0.0 0.1 1.1 5.2 (32)
Gold Coast: Bohanna 3, Dupuy 2, Hampson, Jones
Port Adelaide: Perry 2, Foley, Syme, Tahau
Gold Coast: Rowbottom, Whitfort, Dupuy, Keaney
Port Adelaide: Ballard, Foley, Dowrick, Tahau
Gold Coast: D'Arcy (left ankle)
Port Adelaide: Nil
Crowd: TBC at Bond University