Gold Coast has capped a difficult week the best way possible, breaking a seven-year drought against St Kilda with a 26-point win at Heritage Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Just five days after the departure of coach Stuart Dew, the SUNS played with ferocity and defensive desperation to win 11.11 (77) to 8.3 (51).
It was the first time they'd beaten the Saints since 2016, breaking an eight-game losing streak, and moved them within a game of the top eight.
With interim coach Steven King at the helm, Gold Coast kicked the first three goals of the game and were never troubled, playing with a combination of freedom and intensity that was too much for the Saints.
Jack Lukosius kicked four goals, but it was young midfielder Sam Flanders that caught the eye, racking up 33 disposals in a career-best outing.
Flanders was everywhere, adding seven marks and five tackles to his tally, proving a perfect link between the inside grunt of Noah Anderson, Touk Miller and Matt Rowell and a forward line led by Lukosius.
Nick Holman set the defensive tone, with second, third and fourth efforts inspiring his teammates, while the desperation of returning wingman Elijah Hollands typified the effort with a rundown tackle stopping a second quarter Saints goal.
Gold Coast dominated the contested possession count (153-132) and won clearances 40-27 to control the match, while Wil Powell (26, with 13 intercepts) and Rory Atkins (31 and two goals) had major influences.
The SUNS started a million miles an hour, playing a care-free brand of football in the first quarter, playing on from marks and taking the game on at every chance.
Although it led to some errors, it also gave the forwards plenty of space to work in, resulting in three first-term goals.
The Saints bit back early in the second with two goals to Cooper Sharman, but it was short-lived as the hyper-intense SUNS regained control.
St Kilda looked half a step off the pace most of the day, and although battled until the final siren, rarely challenge and are now battling to keep their spot in the eight.
Are the finals still a chance?
Recording their eighth win of the season against St Kilda, the SUNS will be no more than one-and-a-half games out of the eight at the end of the round. With six matches to go, you never know and it starts next week with a trip to Canberra to face Greater Western Sydney.
Saints' scoring woes
Missing their spearhead Max King, the Saints had huge troubles generating scoring chances. Aside from Cooper Sharman (three goals) who was terrific against All-Australian candidate Charlie Ballard, the forward mix just didn't work. The ball would often find its way to half-forward when things broke down. Eight goals and 11 scoring shots from 49 inside 50s means Ross Lyon has some work to do in the next month to find some cohesion.
Gold Coast teenager Bailey Humphrey is making a habit of producing ridiculous goals in his first season. For the third time in his short career, the No.6 draft pick uncorked a stunning snap from the right forward pocket to spark his team. As he did against the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide earlier in the season, Humphrey threw the ball on his right foot under enormous pressure early in the third quarter and watched it sail high and straight. Unlike last week at Adelaide Oval, this time when he went to the crowd to celebrate, he got plenty in return.
GOLD COAST 3.2 5.6 9.7 11.11 (77)
ST KILDA 0.1 2.2 5.3 8.3 (51)
Gold Coast: Lukosius 4, Atkins 2, Macpherson, Humphrey, Casboult, Anderson, Ainsworth
St Kilda: Sharman 3, Wood, Phillipou, Marshall, Gresham, Caminiti
Gold Coast: Flanders, Powell, Anderson, Atkins, Lukosius, Witts, Holman
St Kilda: Windhager, Wanganeen-Milera, Sharman, Hill, Crouch
Gold Coast: Nil
St Kilda: Nil
Gold Coast: Brayden Fiorini (replaced Hewago Oea in the fourth quarter)
St Kilda: Hunter Clark (replaced Mattaes Phillipou in the third quarter)
Crowd: 13,015 at Heritage Bank Stadium