MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 16: Kalinda Howarth (L) and Tara Bohanna of the Suns celebrate during the 2022 AFLW Round 02 match between the West Coast Eagles and the Gold Coast Suns at VU Whitten Oval on January 16, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

After a dismal outing in 2021, the Suns had plenty of critics to prove wrong. A three-win season did exactly that, showing enough promise under a new senior coach to solidify themselves as potential finals contenders in the years to come.

Season Finish: 10th
Record: 3-6-1

2022 Season snapshot

The Suns showed plenty of promise this season after what could be described as a disastrous 2021 campaign. Rising from last on the ladder to a solid 10th placed spot, the Suns took impressive steps in their development from a bottom of the table side to a potential finals contender in the coming years.

Their three wins came against West Coast, Richmond and Geelong, while Round 3 against the Western Bulldogs produced a 41-all draw.

New coach Cameron Joyce seemed to settle right into his new role, finally leading the club to break their 11-game losing streak by Round 2, but heavy losses came in the form of a 69-point thumping by the Lions.

A solid group of debutants (Alana Barba, Tara Bohanna, Ashanti Bush, Shannnon Danckert, Jacqui Dupuy, Charlie Rowbottom) played a crucial role, with a new look midfield unit under the instruction of Joyce proving to be one of the Suns' most valuable assets.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 04: Jade Pregelj during a Gold Coast Suns AFLW training session on February 04, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Star player: Tara Bohanna

Bohanna was a surprise packet in 2022. Originally overlooked by every AFLW club in the 2021 NAB AFLW Draft, Bohanna finally got her chance as a top-up player at the Suns after biding her time in St Kilda’s VFLW side.

Debuting in Round 1 and playing all subsequent games, the 27-year-old became a dominant figure in the Gold Coast forward line, kicking 13 goals for the season - ending the year ranked fifth competition wide in goalkicking.

Bohanna, who kicked more than a quarter of Gold Coast's total goal tally, was one of the most influential for the Suns in 2022. Despite her relative inexperience at senior level, Bohanna didn't look out of place as she claimed the title of one of the most impressive forwards in the competition.

Breakout player: Charlie Rowbottom

While most of the competition had soaring expectations for Rowbottom, the 2021 draftee seemed to meet all of them. One of the vital cogs in the Suns' midfield, Rowbottom made her debut in Round 1 (an 11-disposal affair) and played every game after that.

The number one draft pick averaged 16 disposals and seven tackles across the season in an impressive display, flawlessly slotting into the Suns' midfield with ease. Awarded with a Rising Star nomination in Round 2, Rowbottom consistently performed throughout the season, proving her status as the number one draft pick was more than warranted.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 27: Number 1 AFLW draft pick for 2021, Charlie Rowbottom of the Oakleigh Chargers poses for a photograph in her Gold Coast Suns uniform at Glenferrie Oval on July 27, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Positives

Consistent wins

As simple as it sounds, winning games of football is instrumental to this developing Gold Coast side. As a club that spent the entire 2021 season without a win on the board, winning three games and drawing one this season exemplified the strides the Suns had made in terms of structure and talent.

Round 4's five-point win over Richmond was perhaps most impressive, digging back from a late deficit to storm home with the win. Remarkably, this win marked the first back-to-back victories for the club since their time in the competition, a promising sign for the future.

Negatives

Leaky defence

While the Suns' midfield unit seemed solid, as a young team they were prone to lapses in concentration. Bohanna held down the forward line, but down back Gold Coast seemed to lack star power. After a season-ending injury to defender Jade Pregelj, the Suns' issues only seemed to get worse.

At their best, Gold Coast looked like they could contend for a potential finals run, but at their worst they seemed to leak scores, ending the season ranked second competition wide in scores conceded (43.1).

Perhaps the best example came against Brisbane when the Suns conceded a whopping 12 goals, eventually losing by 69 points.

Season Grade: C

A couple of wins on the board this season would have been a major improvement from 2021, but the Suns took an extra step in 2022, finishing their season with what could have easily been four wins on the board and an impressive year of development.