It would be easy to write off the surprise 13-point victory of Gold Coast over St Kilda as just a win over a team that is beginning a rebuilding phase, a team that is not a real finals contender.
However, to do that is far too simplistic and indeed would be folly, as the Suns victory in their first match of the season could well be the catalyst that ignites the Gold Coast’s push for an inaugural finals campaign.
It wasn’t just about collecting the four points, or the fact that the Suns recovered from a goalless second quarter to overcome a 19-point half time deficit to win. Nor was it even all about the sublime performance of superstar skipper Gary Ablett.
Sure his accumulative effort of 34 disposals and four goals, including three in the last quarter played a big part in the win. But the larger point is that the Suns, now in their third season in the AFL, are now beginning to form a solid and increasingly dangerous home ground advantage up at Metricon Stadium.
It is worth remembering that the Suns managed to conclude their 2012 season with formative home victories firstly over GWS and then the breakout success over Carlton. As a result, the win over St Kilda was the Suns third consecutive victory at their home venue.
Considering the win over the Giants back in Round 20 last year was their first ever success at Metricon, the wheels seem to have turned in the right direction for the Suns very quickly indeed.
The most pleasing aspect of the come-from-behind win was the key contributions of players outside of the skipper, as it is these players that the club will need to continue developing if they are to become a genuine finals contender sooner rather then later.
The performances of already highly rated youngsters in Dion Prestia and David Swallow, coupled with the impressive efforts of largely unheralded kids in Charlie Dixon and Rory Thompson, are the best sign yet that the Suns youngsters are starting to gel and find their way as a group. This is indeed a credit to the list development of the Suns and also the coaching staff, led by senior coach Guy McKenna.
It may be a little premature to suggest that the Suns have made it just yet and even that they will make the top eight in 2013. However, given that they lost their first 14 matches last season, their recent efforts from not just a win-loss perspective, but also the games where they were highly competitive in defeat will slowly but surely give the youngsters in the team belief in their own ability to compete at this level.
As their confidence rises, the Suns will win more games and will no longer be the easy beats that they were considered to be in much of their first two seasons at AFL level. While no one should get carried away just yet with one win, there is a definite positive trend that is emerging up on the Gold Coast.
With the Suns continual improvement it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that they will soon be extremely hard to beat against any club at their own mini fortress, Metricon Stadium. This is an ominous sign for all other clubs, except of course for the Giants, who are hoping to walk the same path as the Suns.
One thing seems certain, the AFL and in particular Andrew Demetriou would be pleased if the Suns could in fact reach a finals berth in the near future and if it does indeed happen this year, then the league will be overjoyed.