Robbie Gray’s 250th AFL game lasted less than two quarters but by then Port Adelaide had already done enough as Gold Coast narrowly avoided posting their lowest total in club history.
The Suns dodged that humiliation but their struggles were still laid bare in a 12.9 (81) to 4.7 (31) thumping that was a formality thanks to seven straight Port goals in the first half.
Ollie Wines (44 disposals) was one short of Peter Burgoyne’s club record for disposals while Charlie Dixon, Aliir Aliir and Connor Rozee toyed with a Suns side that turned the ball over 78 times.
Gray exited midway through the second quarter of his milestone game with a reported strained medial ligament in his left knee.
Suns captain David Swallow (head knock) was also a casualty at quarter time as Gold Coast failed to respond after last weekend’s limp loss to Fremantle.
“This has been really disappointing. Yes, they’re young, but there’s no excuse for the lack of effort,” Brisbane great Jonathan Brown said on Fox Sports.
“It’s been embarrassing, frankly. I know that’s a harsh word but this is AFL football.”
It was the Suns’ (4-9) fifth loss from their last six games since defeating Collingwood at the MCG and leaves them three wins outside the eight and still searching for a maiden finals appearance.
“If the club’s under the pump, then, of course, I’m under the pump,” Suns coach Stuart Dew said.
“But to be fair, that’s every week; I don’t think it fluctuates as much as it does externally. For me, it’s at a healthy level.
“It’s (the North Melbourne clash) a great challenge for us, we’ll have both skippers out but we’re looking for others to step up, step in.”
He said “at different times in instances and contests it can look a little bit like men v boys” but said the fact 10 of Port’s 12 goals came from intercepts should give them hope.
“We’re in control of more of our scores against than perhaps what we believe. We can control the game a lot more than what we are,” he said.
Port’s bounce-back victory after a loss to Geelong last week leaves them in fifth (9-4) and three wins clear of ninth.
Ben King gave Gold Coast early hope with the game’s first goal, but it was only fleeting as Port kicked the next seven to lead by 40 approaching halftime.
King’s second goal – and the Suns’ third – came with 12 minutes remaining to ensure the 20-point total posted against Port in 2017 remained the club’s lowest.
Rozee oozed class, turning the tables on the crafty Izak Rankine with some cheek of his own.
He had already snapped one goal when he pointed to the mark and, once Rankine’s eyes shifted, took off into the space and snapped a second.
The 21-year-old also made a string of influential defensive plays, laying a desperate tackle that led to a terrific Karl Amon goal.
Dixon (two goals) was formidable up front, his dominance helped by key defender Sam Collins’ (ankle) late scratching in what was supposed to be his injury return.
The Suns panicked in their ball use as Aliir rebounded anything that came in his direction.
Touk Miller battled for his 31 touches while midfielder Matt Rowell (21 touches, 13 contested) showed glimpses in his second game back from a long-term knee injury.
– with 7NEWS