The Gold Coast SUNS continued its strong form in the Top End with another successful campaign to hit the bye with a 6-6 record.
We take a look at six of the highlights from the trip to Darwin, thanks to SIXT.
Returning with 12 points
The club went up to Darwin with a clear focus on returning home with three wins in the bank from the two weeks up north. The SUNS got the job done, notching eight points from the AFL and VFL wins over Western Bulldogs & Footscray in the first week, followed by a comeback win over the Adelaide Crows in Round 12. The SUNS have squared the ledger, currently with six wins and six losses to sit equal with 8th place on the AFL ladder on points.
Credentials franked with comeback win
The SUNS have had some naysayers this year, but the club franked its 2023 credentials with an important win over the Crows which showed grit and maturity. Staring down the barrel of a 35-point deficit at one stage in the second quarter, the SUNS rallied and hammered home nine goals in a row to snatch the lead heading into the final quarter. Holding off a Crows unit determined to wrestle the momentum back, the SUNS were composed enough to withstand a counter-attack before putting the game beyond doubt to win by 25 points.
Lukosius’ double Darwin record
There’s something about Darwin that seems to click for Jack Lukosius. The in-form SUNS forward booted an equal career-high five goals in BOTH Round 11 and 12 and TIO Stadium. Lukosius’ purple patch in the Top End has seen him equal the record for the most goals ever kicked in a game in Darwin – also twice. Coincidentally, Lukosius shares the record with five other players, including his current forward coach Brad Miller who kicked five for Melbourne in 2010. Lukosius sits equal second on the all-time goalscorers list at TIO Stadium, with 10, behind Bulldog Brad Johnson (17).
Humphrey buoys his teammates
First-year revelation Bailey Humphrey pledged his loyalty the SUNS up in Darwin, signing a four-year contract extension through until the end of 2028. It’s a big show of faith by the 18-year-old, and was met with raucous enthusiasm from his teammates. It was a boost for the team heading into Round 12 and the players responded with a strong performance.
Connecting with the community
While the trip to Darwin was centred around the two games, another focus of the trip was to build genuine connections with the Northern Territory community. The club spent two days heading out to local communities and schools to grow the game. Players and staff visited the Tiwi Islands, Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, Wadeye and Darwin schools. It was a trip full of memories to treasure for both the SUNS and the Darwin community.
Darwin embraces the SUNS
On that note, the SUNS gained plenty of new fans after the 11-day trip. One of the most notable was five-time whip-cracking Guinness World Record holder Nathan “Whippy” Griggs. Griggs was captured whipping along to the Gold Coast SUNS club song, embracing the footy fever the SUNS brought to the city. Check out the video below if you are yet to see it.