GOLD Coast has kept its slim finals chances alive and underlined its status as the season's best expansion team with a 25-point win against West Coast on Sunday.
The Suns, who have two wins and a draw from their past five games, jumped Geelong and Adelaide to sit one win outside the top three in Conference B with the grinding win.
They held their ground at stoppages and outclassed the Eagles when going forward, kicking 5.3 (33) to 1.2 (8) at an empty Mineral Resources Park in Perth.
The loss left West Coast anchored to the bottom of Conference B with one win from six games.
EAGLES v SUNS Full match coverage and stats
Luke Dwyer's team won the clearances (16-13) and inside 50s (29-26) but was unable to capitalise in attack.
Gold Coast sharpshooter Kalinda Howarth was the star, booting four goals, including brilliant back-to-back snaps in the third quarter to separate the teams.
She kicked the opener and a goal on the siren, putting an exclamation point on her day out, which saw her constantly elude the Eagles' defenders.
The Suns' backline was also rock solid all day, keeping the Eagles to 0.2 across the first three quarters.
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Eagles midfielder Hayley Bullas kicked her team's only goal when she won a free kick for a high tackle late in the final quarter, staying composed and converting her 30m set shot.
West Coast was bruised and battered by the final siren and looks to have lost Irish rookie Grace Kelly to a left knee injury after she left the game on a stretcher in the second quarter.
She will undergo scans and the Eagles said the initial diagnosis was positive.
The first blow
Howarth's big day started with just over five minutes to play in the first quarter when she emerged from a rolling maul with the footy and slammed it on her right boot. Roughly 25m out and on an angle, her goal nous was obvious and it gave the Suns reward for a bright opening that had seen them have the better of the midfield battle without capitalising.
Sliding doors moment
Approaching the end of the third quarter, Dana Hooker used her skill to start a chain that ended with a contested mark for Parris Laurie. The tall Eagle, who led the ruck, lined up 15m out on a slight angle and would have cut the margin to seven points if she'd converted and given the Eagles the reward they deserved for the hard, contested style they played. She didn't and the Suns took the ball up the other end and Howarth kicked two goals in a minute, effectively ending the low-scoring contest.
Did you see that?
Former Fremantle and Western Bulldogs half-back Belinda Smith has established herself as a speedster and she showed off her wheels early in the third quarter. She burnt off Jordann Hickey, took a bounce and set up a forward entry, letting her Gold Coast opponent know afterwards. It was a great display of pace, but the story of the day for the Eagles was their inability to capitalise.
Playing to the siren
As Suns midfielder Molly Ritson streamed off half-back and kicked long in the last two minutes of the game, Eagle Courtney Guard was scrambling back to make a contest at the drop of the ball. She courageously put herself in the hole and took a big hit when Gold Coast's Brittany Perry crashed through to take a brilliant mark. The contest was over, but Guard kept playing the way the Eagles want, setting an example for her teammates.
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"On the end of three road trips they were entitled to be worn out, but I just loved the way they turned up. I thought West Coast's pressure was outstanding. That's as much pressure as we've had to play under physically. We just had to wait for our opportunities, probably late in quarters and take our chances." – Gold Coast coach David Lake
"We had plenty of the footy but just couldn't convert. Full credit to Gold Coast, they really made us pay. We just know that we've got to get better in certain areas of the game, which is finishing off our work. We've had a good chat about that after the game." - West Coast coach Luke Dwyer
The Suns return home after three road trips and host Adelaide at Fankhauser Reserve next Sunday at 12:10pm AEST, needing to win to keep their season alive. The Eagles travel to Ikon Park to meet Carlton next Saturday at 1:10pm AEDT.
WEST COAST 0.0 0.1 0.2 1.2 (8)
GOLD COAST 1.2 2.2 4.3 5.3 (33)
West Coast: Bullas
Gold Coast: Howarth 4, Hickey
West Coast: Hooker, Smith, Cameron, Swanson, Atkins
Gold Coast: Howarth, Hampson, Stanton, Surman, Dunn, Watson, Ahrens
West Coast: Grace Kelly (left knee)
Gold Coast: Kate Surman (nose)
West Coast: Maddy Collier (calf) replaced in the selected squad by Danika Pisconeri
Gold Coast: Nil