Gold Coast have overcome a spirited Sydney challenge to claim a brave 14-point AFL victory at the SCG.
The Suns were the better side for much of the match but had to withstand a Swans fightback then kicked the only two goals of the final term to triumph 10.15 (75) to 8.13 (61) on Saturday afternoon.
Izak Rankine helped spark the upset as he showed glimpses of the sort of brilliance he often produced early in his short career.
The Suns small forward kicked two important goals after underwhelming with that many in his previous four matches, while proving he can win his own ball when needed with nine of his 13 disposals contested.
“He makes really good decisions with the ball, I’m proud of the way he played,” Suns coach Stuart Dew said.
“There’s not a question of his ability when he’s got the ball. The more he can show up to the front of contests, the better.”
Matt Rowell (15 contested possessions, seven clearances), Touk Miller (11, 5) and David Swallow (9, 6) dominated around the stoppages while Brayden Fiorini (30 disposals) and Brandon Ellis (26) were also among the best for the Suns.
While the Suns won the clearances 36-29 they were also able to gain easy ground with the Swans giving away four 50m penalties for moving off the mark too early, helping the visitors to top the inside 50 count 55-41.
The Suns (3-5) will also be cheered by Rory Thompson getting through his first AFL match in 1379 days after being sidelined due to serious knee injuries since round 19, 2018.
The key defender spent much of the match opposed to Logan McDonald and helped restrict the emerging forward to one goal and nine disposals in a stirring return.
Paddy McCartin was one of Sydney’s best, especially when the Suns were on top in the first half, impressing in defence on his return after missing one match under concussion protocols.
McCartin ended the match with 19 disposals and 10 marks as he intercepted several Suns’ attacks but the Swans were eventually overwhelmed.
“He’s developing well. It’s his first season as a defender and he’s learning all the time but he’s going OK,” Sydney coach John Longmire said.
Nick Blakey (25 disposals) provided his usual run and penetration out of defence but the Swans’ leaders, including Callum Mills (20) and Luke Parker (16), failed to have their usual impact as their team dropped to a 5-3 season record.
The Suns improved their impressive record at the SCG, now winning three of their past four matches against the Swans at the venue, and looked comfortable early as they built a 17-point lead at the main break.
They had an opportunity to take the contest away from Sydney in the third term but inaccuracy in front of goal could only result in 1.5 while the Swans fought back to level the scores at the last change.
An early final-term goal to Levi Casboult restored the Suns’ lead but the Swans kept within touching distance until the veteran key forward booted his second with two minutes remaining to seal the win.
After consecutive losses at the SCG, the Swans will return to the venue again next Saturday night to take on Essendon, while the Suns will face an in-form Fremantle at Metricon Stadium.