Gold Coast SUNS have put on a brave performance to open the season going down by 25-points to the Eagles at Optus Stadium on Sunday evening.
Rocked by a knee injury to young star Matt Rowell in the first quarter, the SUNS kept their focus and made the Eagles work for everything, taking a seven-point lead in the opening minute of the final term.
The young SUNS, who were disciplined in all phases of the game and had shown their improvement after another summer, but will be left wondering what might have been had Rowell seen out his comeback match after a shoulder injury ruined his debut season.
The SUNS controlled long periods of the match and were able to take away the Eagles' kicking game and centre square advantage before coming unstuck late, with the four-goal margin not reflective of a tense arm-wrestle.
Oscar Allen's contribution was massive for the Eagles, with the young star booting a career-best four goals and taking nine marks to prove the difference, spearheading a dangerous tall forward line.
Midfielder Dom Sheed (34 disposals and nine clearances) stepped up in the absence of star pair Luke Shuey and Elliot Yeo, while Tim Kelly (28 and nine inside 50s) was also excellent.
The tall trio of Allen, Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy were in irresistible touch early, with Allen and Darling combining to kick the opening three goals of the match in four minutes.
It appeared to be a winning structure that would not be challenged, but the SUNS found their rhythm once they were able to control possession and clawed the margin back to four points at the first break.
Dealing with the emotional loss of Rowell in his comeback game, the SUNS were able to maintain their composure and took away the stoppage advantage that had become such a weapon for the Eagles.
Jack Bowes spent long periods on Allen, but was also important as a rebounder, finishing with 30 possessions and seven rebound 50s, while captain David Swallow (29 possessions and a goal) led from the front in the midfield.
WEST COAST 3.3 5.3 7.7 12.11 (83)
GOLD COAST 2.4 5.4 7.8 8.10 (58)
West Coast: Allen 4, Darling 2, Kennedy 2, Cripps, Petruccelle, Ryan Vardy
Gold Coast: King 3, Holman, Miller, Sexton, Swallow, Weller
West Coast: Allen, Sheed, Kelly, Hurn, Barrass, Duggan
Gold Coast: Swallow, Miller, King, Bowes, Lukosius, Markov
West Coast: Nil
Gold Coast: Rowell (knee)
West Coast: Jones (unused)
Gold Coast: Holman (replaced Rowell)
Crowd: 38,493 at Optus Stadium