Touk Miller has suffered an apparent left knee injury to sour Gold Coast's 43-point win over North Melbourne at Heritage Bank Stadium on Sunday night.
Miller was helped from the ground by Gold Coast doctors late in the third quarter of the 14.13 (97) to 7.12 (54) victory and sat the game out sitting in a brace.
It dampened what was a strong performance from the SUNS to snap a two-game losing streak and bring their season ledger to 2-4 ahead of a date with Richmond at Marvel Stadium next Sunday.
While the SUNS will have to wait for scans on Miller's knee on Monday to find out whether they'll be without their co-captain for any length of time, there was a lot to like about the win.
Top of the list was the performance from Ben King, kicking four first-half goals, and five for the day, to lay the foundation for victory in just his sixth game back from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
King kicked two in the first quarter, two in the second and one in the last, losing opponent Ben McKay in traffic a couple of times, and most importantly converting his chances when presented them.
Lachie Weller – King's fellow ACL returnee in 2023 – was one of the best players on the ground, offering a real point of difference in a sometimes lacklustre contest.
Weller finished with 28 disposals and 14 marks, finding space against a Kangaroos team that was nowhere near its best.
Matt Rowell (18 disposals and 12 tackles), Noah Anderson (28 and eight clearances) and Ben Ainsworth (24 and two goals) were also instrumental in the win, while Darcy Macpherson and Jack Lukosius also had strong outings.
For North Melbourne it was a second straight disappointing performance, this one coming in the 300th game of ruckman Todd Goldstein.
Gold Coast set the tone early, racing to a 19-point lead on the back of two King goals.
The home team dominated much of the term, with 18 inside 50s to eight, but like other matches in the early part of the season, battled to put it on the scoreboard.
Co-captain Jarrod Witts gave the SUNS some extra breathing space before the break, kicking a rare goal from 25m out to spark jubilant scenes with his teammates.
The second quarter was played on far more even terms as Ben Cunnington and Jack Ziebell began influencing the contest and the Kangaroos reached parity around the ground.
King kicked another two goals, including one on the half-time siren courtesy of a free kick, to keep the Roos at arm's length, despite Gold Coast missing a handful of gettable kicks at goal.
Unlike previous weeks where they fell away after the main break, Gold Coast would run away comfortable winners this time.
Big Ben's Big Game
Little bit by little bit, Ben King is slowly getting back to his best. The last time he graced Heritage Bank Stadium, the powerful full-forward had an 'almost' day against Geelong, dropping a handful of chest marks before taking a late hanger and kicking a goal. Against the Kangaroos he took a strong early mark on the lead in front of Ben McKay, converted the set shot and never looked back. He played in front, judged the ball well and took his chances to kick five goals straight – just the second time in his career he's kicked that many in a match.
Sheezel gets some close attention
It was just his sixth career game, but Gold Coast identified dynamic No.3 draft pick Harry Sheezel as a young man they wanted to stop. SUNS half-forward Nick Holman, arguably the toughest and most disciplined player on their list, was sent straight to tag the Kangaroos defender. Sheezel battled to have any impact in the first half, gathering just six disposals, and was moved to half-forward by Alastair Clarkson after the main break. He finished with 11 for the day.
Super-sub Bailey Humphrey
Bailey Humphrey had to wait until halfway through the third quarter for his chance, but the first-year SUN made every minute count. Coming on as a tactical sub to replace Malcolm Rosas jnr, the No.6 draft pick took less than 60 seconds to make an impact, taking a strong overhead mark and flushing his set shot from 40m. Humphrey was a livewire inside 50 for the remainder of the game, kicking a second goal in the final term and doing everything possible to ensure Stuart Dew picks him in the Suns' 22 next week.
GOLD COAST 4.3 7.6 10.10 14.13 (97)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 4.3 4.5 7.12 (54)
Gold Coast: King 5, Humphrey 2, Chol 2, Ainsworth 2, Witts, Lukosius, Holman
North Melbourne: Stephenson 2, Zurhaar, Tucker, Taylor, Shiels, Larkey
Gold Coast: Weller, Anderson, Rowell, Ainsworth, Powell, Macpherson, Witts
North Melbourne: Ziebell, Cunnington, Goldstein
Gold Coast: Miller (knee)
North Melbourne: Larkey (ankle)
Gold Coast: Bailey Humphrey (replaced Mal Rosas Jnr in the third quarter)
North Melbourne: Liam Shiels (replaced Will Phillips in the fourth quarter)
Crowd: TBC at Heritage Bank Stadium