The return of Gary Ablett has helped spark Gold Coast to their second AFL win of the season, a 55-point triumph over North Melbourne.
Almost a year to the day of his season-ending shoulder injury last year, the superstar Suns’ skipper provided a timely reminder of what his side had been missing in the 19.11 (125) to 10.10 (70) victory on Saturday at Metricon Stadium.
Ablett finished with a team-high 31 disposals, but it was his sheer presence that inspired his teammates to rise to another level after a horrific week for both club and code.
Previously rudderless without their leader and barely competitive in weeks gone by, it felt like a return to the Suns of old.
The dual Brownlow medallist also kicked three majors and his influence on the contest grew as the likes of best-on-ground Kade Kolodjashnij (28) and Michael Rischitelli (28) rallied around him.
Charlie Dixon also had a day out with a career-best seven goals, Aaron Hall chipped in with three and defender Steven May silenced North Melbourne forward Jarrod Waite.
The Suns were rarely troubled against a surprisingly lacklustre Kangaroos outfit and, at one stage, led by as much as 29 points in a dominant first half.
Three North Melbourne goals helped trim the margin back to 11 points at halftime and they appeared to have all the momentum at that stage – only for Gold Coast to fire straight back with three of their own at the start of the third term.
The Kangaroos were never a chance from then on, and the margin blew out as the Suns basked in the glory of an eight-goal final quarter.
The only highlight from a North Melbourne perspective was Lindsay Thomas’ goal-of-the-year contender early on, when he rode Adam Saad like a chairlift – and then crashed head-on into the ground, shaken and unable to take his kick.
The loss puts a massive dent into the Kangaroos’ finals hopes while Gold Coast have moved off the bottom of the ladder on percentage and past local rivals Brisbane, who face Fremantle on Sunday.