GOLD Coast has kept itself in the race for a maiden finals appearance, overpowering Hawthorn by 67 points at Heritage Bank Stadium on Sunday.
After conceding the first three goals of the game, the suns ramped up their defensive pressure to steamroll the Hawks 14.17 (101) to 5.4 (34).
It moves their win-loss record to 7-7, outside the top eight on percentage only, ahead of a mouth-watering contest against Collingwood at home next Saturday.
They had contributors all over the field, with Brayden Fiorini (35 disposals) playing one of his best games for the club.
Noah Anderson (28 and two goals) was magnificent, while Matt Rowell (20 and seven clearances) and recalled Sam Flanders (27) helped the SUNS gain midfield ascendency.
Hawthorn appeared to be bucking the post-bye trend of flat performances in the early going with slick ball movement and hard-running piloting them to a quarter-time lead.
However, the SUNS turned the screws from the second quarter and never looked back.
They kicked 14 goals to two after the first 15 minutes and generated 68 inside 50s to just 37.
Coach Stuart Dew would be most impressed by their defensive work, nullifying the free-flowing Hawks at nearly every turn as they swarmed in numbers and were well set up ahead of the ball.
The Hawks could just find no space.
Wil Powell was secure across half-back, Darcy Macpherson mopped up loose balls and Charlie Ballard and Mac Andrew dominated in the air.
Malcolm Rosas jnr kicked three final-quarter goals, while Ben King and Jack Lukosius kicked t wo apiece and looked dangerous all game.
Hawthorn picked up from where it left off prior to the bye against Brisbane, kicking the opening three goals and stretching the SUNS with their run-and-gun game.
Mitch Lewis kicked two early, one from a spectacular mark over Ballard, to establish an 18-point lead.
Gold Coast worked its way back into the contest by quarter-time through goals to Ben Ainsworth and Lukosius before assuming control in the second term.
Jarrod Witts and Brandon Ellis kicked goals to give the home team the lead, but the SUNS could kick just 2.8 from 22 inside 50s.
With their defensive pressure completely transformed after quarter-time, they had the ball camped inside their forward 50 without making the most of their opportunities.
SUNS are still alive in the race for the eight
Every week is worth four premiership points, but this one had extra significance for the SUNS. After losing so badly to Carlton seven days ago, another loss to the lowly Hawks would have almost torpedoed their top-eight chances and ramped up the external pressure on coach Stuart Dew. However, after a slow start, it was a mature performance built on pressure and a defensive system that suffocated the exciting Hawks. Next up is a date with Collingwood at Heritage Bank Stadium that could genuinely announce the SUNS as a finals aspirant.
King and Lukosius a deadly duo
The longer Ben King and Jack Lukosius work together in the front half of the ground, the more dangerous they look for the SUNS. After a quiet first half, the duo were responsible for breaking the game open in the third, with King kicking two goals and Lukosius one. King's second came from a deftly weighted pass from his 2018 draft class mate. He now has 33 goals for the season and Lukosius 26, with both looking likely in one-on-one contests and working nicely alongside wrecking ball teammate Levi Casboult.
Lewis takes flight
There wasn't much to get excited about for Hawks fans, but Mitch Lewis provided an early highlight with his spectacular opening quarter mark and goal. After kicking 16 goals in his past four matches, Lewis started in brilliant fashion, soaring high over Charlie Ballard – and in front of direct opponent Sam Collins – to pull in a spectacular grab and go back and kick his second goal. Unfortunately, he was starved of chances the rest of the game, but the mark was a moment to remember.
GOLD COAST 2.0 4.8 9.12 14.17 (101)
HAWTHORN 3.1 3.4 5.4 5.4 (34)
Gold Coast: Rosas jnr 3, King 2, Lukosius 2, Anderson 2, Witts, Swallow, Holman, Ellis, Ainsworth
Hawthorn: Breust 2, Lewis 2, Moore
Gold Coast: Anderson, Fiorini, Ainsworth, Powell, Flanders, Rowell
Hawthorn: Day, Hardwick, Impey, Worpel
Gold Coast: Nil
Gold Coast: Rory Atkins (replaced Lachie Weller at three-quarter time)
Hawthorn: Sam Butler (replaced Lloyd Meek in third quarter)
Crowd: 14,242 at Heritage Bank Stadium