A close battle in the Northern Territory capital has seen the Gold Coast SUNS cross over the line with a seven-point victory over the Western Bulldogs.
For SUNS defender Ben Long, it was a special night to play in his hometown in front of friends and family.
“It feels wholesome and it was a special night. It was great to get the win, which makes it even more special,” Long said.
For the Darwin local, the journey to AFL has been long, but the impressive performance in the Top End is one he will cherish forever.
“I’ll say it’s one the highlights of my career so far,” Long said.
“The last time I played up here was in 2016 for my junior club Saint Mary’s, so to be playing at the highest level in front of friends and family feels pretty special.”
In the tense battle in Darwin, Bailey Humphrey ended the final chapter with a fairy-tale finish.
The mid-forward split the sticks with a late goal in the final minutes from a difficult angle in the pocket, taking the margin out to eight points.
Humphrey said the feeling in the dressing rooms after the match was electric.
“It was good to get over the line. The feeling in the room for Freck’s (Nick Holman) 100th was unbelievable. It was so good to get the win for him,” Humphrey said.
The mid-forward said there wasn’t a lot going through his mind before he kicked the goal, but thanked Jack Lukosius for his efforts to grant him the opportunity.
“I just thought I’d get to the front and hope for the best,” Humphrey said.
“Luko put in a good contest and brought it to the ground, and I just took my moment.
“I was going to dribble it, but I just threw it on my boot and it happened to go through, so I gave the crowd a little bit of a show after.”
Humphrey said that he felt inspired by the Darwin players, seeing them play in their hometown.
“To see them in their element was great. They’re electric when they’re here. It was unbelievable to see,” Humphrey said.
The SUNS will now immerse themselves in the Territory community, which Humphrey and Long are both excited about.
The SUNS play the Adelaide Crows at TIO Stadium, Darwin with the first bounce at 7.30pm Queensland time.