Gold Coast SUNS AFLW senior player Tiarna Ernst believes the team has made a statement to the rest of the competition after a hard-fought match against premiership fancies North Melbourne on Saturday.

The SUNS were within a goal of the Kangaroos late in the match after leading at the first break but ultimately ran out of time to mount a comeback.

Speaking to SUNS Media post-match, Ernst said she was proud of the team’s effort in the face of adversity.

“We had a lot of lessons that we learnt coming up against a quality opposition but our focus was to bring heat to the contest and I think we did that today,” Ernst said.

“The mindset and the mentality was that we had nothing to lose. 

“We knew that they were going to chip the ball around and try to play the uncontested brand of footy and if we really brought the heat to the immediate contest then it was really going to put a lot of pressure on them.

“There were ebbs and flows throughout the game but we definitely showed that we can stand up to a quality opposition.”

Despite the ledger standing at one win, one draw and two losses, Ernst said the team had proved they were going to be a tough opposition to play against.

“I really think that we have sent a really strong message to the rest of the competition that we can be very competitive,” she said.

“We do have a successful brand with the way we want to play and move the football.

“But also the pressure around the contest and our tackling intensity is something that we’re very proud of so I’m hoping that a lot more people are starting to talk about the Gold Coast SUNS moving forward.”

It was a momentous game for Ernst, who kicked her first ever goal in the AFLW.

The veteran had previously only played in defence, but her new wing role at the SUNS has allowed her to expand on her game in more ways than one.

“I’m stoked, it’s obviously my fourth season and I haven’t had a chance to kick a goal yet,” Ernst said.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity that I’ve had playing on the wing with more outside run and using my strengths of my speed and agility.

“To be able to finish off a goal and do it for the team was something that I’m really proud of.”