If Gold Coast want to play finals this year, they’re going to have to do it the hard way.
Four weeks ago, the Suns were considered an outside chance to snare a top-four berth after winning seven of their opening nine games of the AFL season.
But three losses on the trot have left them with an uphill battle to even make the top eight, with Saturday’s three-point defeat to West Coast proving particularly heartbreaking.
The Suns booted six unanswered goals in the final quarter to turn a 39-point deficit into a one-point lead.
But a late goal from Eagles swingman Jeremy McGovern sealed the 15.13 (103) to 15.10 (100) result.
Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna was impressed by his team’s final-quarter display, but he was critical of what they produced during the first three terms.
And with season-defining games against Geelong (home), Hawthorn (Aurora Stadium) and Collingwood (home) to come over the next three weeks, McKenna knows his team will pay the price if they don’t start producing four-quarter efforts.
“Well, I would look at that last quarter and say we’re a good chance to beat the next three sides if we play like that,” McKenna said.
“But we have to play longer than 30 minutes.
“Physically the group has matured. Technically we’ve got some hurdles to get over with our ball use and composure.
“We’re 7-5 now. The season’s just over halfway done. It’s a big year still ahead of us. We’re looking forward to those three challenges coming up.”
Gold Coast skipper Gary Ablett was restricted to just four possessions in the opening term against West Coast, but finished the match with 33 disposals and 11 clearances to almost get his side over the line.
The little maestro had the chance to win the game in the dying moments, but his checkside kick from a near-impossible angle hit the post.