Suns down Eagles in thriller
West Coast's wait for a third win in season 2022 will continue, suffering a heartbreaking three point defeat to the Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium on Sunday.
In a remarkable game with plenty of highlights from both sides it was the Suns who kept their faint finals hopes alive with a 16.11 (107) to 16.8 (104) triumph, Mabior Chol with five goals in a commanding performance up forward.
The Eagles started well in wingman Andrew Gaff's 250th game, kicking the first two goals through Jack Darling and Jack Redden before the Suns clicked in to gear, kicking the next five goals to open up a 15 point quarter time lead.
The Suns midfield was dominating clearance with Touk Miller and Noah Anderson in particular dominant, Izaak Rankine with three first half goals in a dazzling forward half display.
A one sided contest looked likely when the Suns pushed out to a 37 point lead approaching half time, a late Liam Ryan goal giving the visitors some hope.
Those hopes lifted further in the third term as Darling broke free of opponent Sam Collins to boot two majors to take his tally to four on the day, the Suns wilting for a period to the Eagles increased pressure.
Jeremy Sharp and Anderson kicked steadiers for the Suns, and when Chol leapt to the skies to haul in an impressive mark and kicked truly after the three quarter time siren it looked likely that the Suns would run away with the contest with a quarter to play.
Chol had his fourth early in the last only for Darling to respond in kind at the other end, booting his fifth and sixth goals of the day, Jack Petruccelle with a third major as the margin went in to single figures to set up a grandstand finish.
Jack Redden toe-poked through his second to bring the margin to two points as the Suns stopped to a walk, only for Chol to mark and goal and kick a career best fifth goal to make the margin nine points.
Jake Waterman marked and goaled with 38 seconds on the clock to give the Eagles some hope, only for the Suns to win the clearance and goal through Malcolm Rosas to seal the game.
Jermaine Jones goaled on the siren but it wasn't enough for West Coast, who slumped to their 17th and tightest defeat of the season.
The bad news continued post match, with Jai Culley and Jack Petruccelle both set for scans after failing to finish the match with hamstring injuries.
Culley will also attract attention from the Match Review Officer Michael Christian for a high elbow in the second term on Noah Anderson.
Darling kicked six goals in a career equalling best performance, his best showing in an underwhelming season while Tim Kelly responded from a quiet game against the Saints with 28 touches, Shannon Hurn outstanding with 26 touches at half back while Tom Barrass' brilliant form continued down back with 19 disposals and 11 towering marks.
Touk Miller was best afield for Gold Coast, winning 31 disposals as well as a remarkable 16 clearances, also laying ten tackles in a complete midfield performance.
Chol and Rankine shared eight goals between them to give their side an outside chance of a maiden finals appearance, needing to win their remaining three games in order to qualify.
West Coast remain in the wooden spoon race as they prepare to host Adelaide at Optus Stadium, Gold Coast heading to Launceston to face Hawthorn.
IMAGE: The West Australian.