AFL – Are the Suns finally finals-bound?

Three wins in four games has pundits and fans asking: Is this, Gold Coast’s 12th AFL season, the year they finally crack the Top 8?

Since entering the national competition in 2011, the Gold Coast Suns have never made the finals. In fact, they’ve never come close. Three wins in both their inaugural year and 2012 saw them finish as cellar dwellers, before eight wins in 2013. When they hit 10 wins in 2014 to finish 12th, the upward trend was clear. With a bevy of top draft picks, and games into other promising youngsters, some even said that time was simply the start of a period of Suns dominance. Except that never eventuated. As it stands, that finish (12th in 2014, 10 wins) remains their best ever result — a damning statistic for the expansion club.

But could this, their 12th AFL season, be the year things change?

Time to dream?

A poor start to the 2022 season saw the Suns clump to 2-5, and familiar questions arise about coach Stuart Dew’s tenure at the club. Since then, however, their turnaround has been stark. Not just for the wins they’ve picked up, but the opposition. The Suns defeated Top 4 hopefuls Sydney (at the SCG, no less) and Fremantle in back-to-back season-turning wins. A close loss to the Dogs was then followed by a dominant 67-point victory over the Hawks in Round 11 to set themselves up for a finals tilt in the back half of the AFL season. The purple patch has seen them shorten from $10 into $3.80 in Palmerbet’s Top 8 market.

Another false dawn?

The thing is, we’ve been here before. The Suns have threatened to break out at various points in their 12-year history. Except it’s never happened. The one thing in Dew’s favour this season, however, is that his side have seemingly closed the gap between their best and worst performances. At the halfway mark of the AFL season, one thing that might worry Dew is their recent tendency to slide in the back-half. In fact, since 2015, Gold Coast have won on average just over two games per season after Round 8 onwards. One huge free-kick though, courtesy of finishing 16th last season, falls in their favour.

Favourable draw

Perhaps the biggest advantage the Suns get from now is a dream run home. In their final 11 games, they face just three current AFL Top 8 clubs. In fact, five of those games will be against current bottom 4 sides, including two games against the lowly North Melbourne. The first of those is this weekend, a clash in which the Suns start as huge $1.08 favourites with Palmerbet. Win there, as many expect, and Gold Coast will move to 6-6 and on the precipice of the Top 8.