Fremantle has narrowly avoided a huge AFL upset by beating a second-string Gold Coast at a dreary Metricon Stadium.
The Suns incredibly came close to victory over the competition frontrunners, spending most of a pulsating final quarter trailing by less than a kick.
But they were unable drag themselves over the line as the Dockers scraped home with a 7.4 (46) to 6.17 (53) triumph.
It came down to the final moments, as a low-scoring contest ended in a sudden flurry of goals.
Nick Suban kicked what appeared to be the sealer with a minute to go from a free kick just metres out from goal, but the Suns kept coming and Tom Lynch provided an almost instant reply.
In the end the Suns ran out of time but would have won plenty of admirers after an strong four-quarter performance supported by an even spread of contributors.
Predictions of a Freo bloodbath proved well off the mark, with the ladder leaders again a long way from their best – a week on from their first defeat of the season against Richmond.
That was mostly down to the Suns.
Where they failed against Hawthorn and Sydney in the previous two rounds, Gold Coast was able to drag the game down to their level and stop Fremantle’s damaging run-and-gun style.
Nathan Fyfe amassed a game-high 31 possessions and booted two goals in two minutes just after half-time, and at that stage the Dockers appeared poised to kick away.
But led by acting captain Michael Rischitelli (17 touches) and boom rookie Adam Saad (20 touches), the Suns didn’t let them.
It was an incredible effort from a side crippled by an unprecedented injury crisis that left them with just 23 players to pick from.
Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade tempted fate on Friday by saying the Suns needed to avoid a first-quarter injury since their substitute, the returning Nick Malceski, was still hampered by a knee problem and not able to run out a match.
In tune with their complete lack of good fortune this year, of course, it happened.
Halfway through the opening term, Danny Stanley’s afternoon came to an early end when he went down with a knee injury, throwing a clearly unfit Malceski into the mix.
But Gold Coast found a way to carry on regardless, falling over only at the final hurdle.