Saturday night saw the Gold Coast SUNS claim its first victory of the 2021 season in front of a home crowd at Metricon Stadium.

There were exciting plays for fans at the ground and also plenty of positive signs for the coaches to reinforce heading into Round 3 against Adelaide.

SUNS Media have broken down some of the key talking points below.

The response Dew asked for:

Speaking after Round 1, Senior Coach Stuart Dew flagged that the team’s overall improvement this season could be judged by its response against North Melbourne after almost getting over the line against West Coast. The SUNS rubber-stamped that improvement on Saturday night, opening up a big lead before half-time and then going on to win by 59 points.

It was the manner in which the team got the job done which was just as pleasing as the win itself. The SUNS were challenged in the third quarter but fought off a North Melbourne surge, then pushed hard in the final quarter to extend the lead further. There was no putting the cue in the rack, which will have Dew pleased ahead of a Round 3 encounter against the Crows.

Anderson’s big game:

Some could argue he’s under-appreciated externally, but Noah Anderson did his best to flip that script on Saturday night. The second-year onballer was one of Gold Coast’s best players against North Melbourne and provided some flair in the midfield through the night. He finished with a career-high 35 disposals, nine marks, seven tackles and 10 score involvements.

His performance was enough to see him secure a perfect 10 in the AFL Coaches’ Association votes, and perhaps even feature on Brownlow Medal night. Anderson was one of the biggest improvers throughout the pre-season, and if early season form is anything to go by, is set for a big 2021 season to come.

Win soured by injuries:

What should have been celebrated as a great club victory had a bittersweet taste as the SUNS were struck by dual knee injuries on the night. Sam Day went down moments before the half-time siren and had to be assisted from the ground. He wasn’t able to return and was subsequently subbed out for the second half. There is no timeline yet for Day’s return.

Things got worse when, with the game already won, young defender Connor Budarick went down on the wing clutching his right knee. It looked serious, and scans confirmed the worst on Tuesday morning when it was announced the 19-year-old had ruptured his ACL. The double blow for the SUNS opens up positions at both ends of the ground, which will be a dilemma for the match committee to discuss this week.