Suns back in AFL shade after hot restart
Gold Coast's early-season bubble of positivity was pricked again as the Suns lost further ground in the AFL finals race with a defeat to reinvigorated GWS in round nine.
Stuart Dew's exciting young side was the one to watch when it burst out of the competition's shutdown period with three straight wins.
But four defeats in their past five outings have pushed the Suns back outside the top eight ahead of three straight meetings with teams that sit above them on the ladder.
The Giants dominated the contested game and kept Gold Coast at arm's length after half-time to post a comfortable 9.7 (61) to 4.11 (35) win at Metricon Stadium.
"We've been in all games right to the end, so where we fit (in the competition) is we think we can win every game," Suns coach Dew said.
"Our numbers suggest we're a far greater side than we were last year and we're really confident of that."
The Giants' win came at a cost as superstar Toby Greene and tough tagger Matt de Boer suffered hamstring injuries that could have huge ramifications.
Collingwood's top-four hopes suffered a huge blow after they slumped to a shock 12-point loss to Fremantle in Perth.
Dockers forward Matt Taberner booted four goals and his team won the contested possession count 151-115 in the 10.1 (61) to 7.7 (49) win.
Magpies coach Nathan Buckley concedes his team's intensity around the contest has been below par during the past fortnight, and he wants to see improvement in Thursday night's clash with Sydney at the Gabba.
"It's a fitting test for us, because we need to get that right," Buckley said.
Meanwhile, Majak Daw's return might well prove to be one of the 2020 season's defining moments.
The 29-year-old, who suffered serious hip and pelvic injuries when he fell from the Bolte Bridge 20 months ago, completed a miraculous comeback on Saturday.
North Melbourne thumped Adelaide by 69 points at Metricon Stadium and Daw kicked a final-quarter goal that sparked heart-warming celebrations amongst his teammates.
The hapless Crows' loss sent the season's last remaining winless side crashing to a club-record low - a dozen consecutive defeats in a run dating back to last year.
Nic Naitanui's influence was laid bare in front of a bumper crowd - by limited 2020 standards - in West Coast's thrilling 11.7 (73) to 10.4 (64) win over Geelong at Optus Stadium.
The athletic ruckman fed his hit-outs down teammates' throats all night and spearheaded a gritty comeback from a 22-point deficit late in the second quarter.
Eagles spearhead Josh Kennedy kicked four goals to take the lead in the Coleman Medal race with 22 majors for the season ahead of Tom Papley, who was held to one in Sydney's 15.11 (101) to 6.12 (48) defeat to St Kilda.
On Thursday night, ladder leaders Port Adelaide bounced back from their shock defeat in round eight, putting Melbourne to the sword in a 12.11 (83) to 4.8 (32) thrashing at the Gabba.
Reigning premiers Richmond kicked off the round on Wednesday night with a 13.12 (90) to 7.7 (49) victory over the Western Bulldogs.
High-flying Brisbane smacked Essendon by 63 points and Hawthorn bounced back with a 31-point victory over Carlton despite conceding the first five goals.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails