GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 02: Darcy Macpherson of the Suns is tackled by Gary Rohan of the Cats during the 2023 AFL Round 03 match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Geelong Cats at Heritage Bank Stadium on April 2, 2023 in the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Russell Freeman/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The Gold Coast Suns began Sunday's game at a frenetic pace when they hosted Geelong at Carrara, matching the Cats all over the field.

And yet, another slow start saw them go down to a two-goal deficit despite getting the better of their vastly more fancied opponents.

First Patrick Dangerfield stamped his authority with a goal, then home-grown ex-Sun Jack Bowes scored his first major in the hoops to put the Suns 14 points down midway through the first quarter.

Then it was Jack Lukosius who marked the ball inside 50 after an audacious passage of footy and kicked a nervous goal to belie what had been a 35% accuracy on goal prior to this game.

The signs were appearing, but different signs.

Manic defensive pressure up and down the field forced the Cats into uncharacteristic turnovers, with the Suns dominating the centre clearances. This was Suns footy.

Then Lukosius missed a set shot amid a calamitous quarter for both sides on goal in the second quarter as the teams spluttered toward halftime without either managing more than three goals.

More signs emerged from the bad old Suns.

Bad decisions, Jy Farrar having two howlers in 30 seconds, Ben King dropping his third sitter of a mark, as unnecessary turnovers invited Jeremy Cameron into the game.

It was advantage Geelong, in spite of the premiers playing well below their 2022 blistering form, yet impressive considering the Suns' intent.

The Suns scrambled and managed to save the quarter, only seven points down at the first break.

The Suns had spent all week building up the hype around David Swallow's 200th game, while Geelong very quietly managed the birth of Cameron's daughter which had put him in doubt for the first three rounds.

Both clubs had entered the match winless at 17th and 18th respectively and the loser would finish the round in the uncoveted wooden spoon position.

Tom Stewart looked imperious, but something Stuart Dew said at the break sparked the Suns, but missed set shots and more dropped marks by King kept the Cats in front.

The signs were still there. Good and bad.

Tom Hawkins had a rare mark, but missed, and the Suns raced upfield only for Nick Holman to miss a snap and Farrar followed with a missed opportunity on open goal.

Geelong came alive, yet with Lachie Weller and Darcy MacPherson quarterbacking for all their worth and both sides missing at both ends, the commentators' curse mired the contest into a stagnant to and fro.

Finally, the Suns got a scrambling, fumbly inside 50 that Levi Casboult handpassed to a scrambling King, who connected with Lukosius to give the Suns the edge.

The third quarter continued with a pair of brain fades, but Cameron could only add seven points, then Lukosius marked and finished to give the Suns reward for effort.

The signs were building both ways.

When Holman ran through a contest, collecting Sam De Koning as both players put their head over the ball, Geelong were forced to immediately scramble to shore up their defences.

Uncharacteristic misses from Geelong forwards kept the Suns in it when Holman, back on the field with a fresh bandage on his head, made a courageous run-down tackle and then put King in position to finally mark and goal.

Advantage Suns.

A Holman poster followed by an Alex Sexton poster put a small buffer into the contest, yet it could again have been so much more, then new father Cameron came back into the game to even it up.

Jarrod Witts, courageous all day, was beginning to take longer to get to every contest, having been triple-teamed in the ruck as he shouldered the load for 90% of ruck contests.

Matt Rowell was touching the ball twice as much as stats would show, always closely marked at stoppages, but never giving up and starting to win the ball in space.

Touk Miller was productive as always, but in this game he was playing a team-first role as a defensive midfielder.

Swallow, as ever, contested everything and continued sweeping the ball forward.

With the Cats trailing into the fourth quarter, Cameron continued to miss, then Hawkins missed too and the Suns had yet another let-off.

The premiership Cats were nowhere to be seen.

With King losing the battle with Esava Ratugolea, Charlie Ballard kicked his first goal since his debut with a 60m effort to put the Suns out by 11 and it was game on.

However, fresh substitute, Gary Rohan, created a goal from nothing and got the Cats back to within a kick.

Then Ben King plucked a screamer worthy of a mark of the year nomination, after so many spilt marks, but he couldn't ice it with a goal from a set shot.

MacPherson kept injecting himself into the game, playing the best game of his career out of the back pocket, continuing to provide rebound out of defensive 50 and putting his side on the attack.

But it was Lukosius who stole the limelight with an intercept mark 65 metres out, comically insisting to the umpire that he was having a shot at goal, then nailing a 73-metre drop punt to stamp his dominance on the contest.

That was the winner, but the Suns surged forward again with a goal started and finished by Sexton and then it was celebration mode.

Rohan soon added another for the Cats, but the game was all over when Lukosius put a set shot check side through from 40 metres out on a tight angle.

The Suns had done it for their spiritual leader.

The signs were there all game, good and bad, yet against the benchmark side of the competition, the Suns were triumphant.