Gary Ablett
Gary Ablett

It's taken close to two years but Gold Coast skipper Gary Ablett now trusts his team-mates to the point where he can venture forward without fretting about the midfield.

The Suns' shock 12-point triumph over Carlton was not only a landmark moment for the expansion club itself - it was another major leap forward for their on-ball unit.

Though illness had a part to play, Ablett spent large portions of his Saturday night out of the engine room and floating across half-forward instead, with a clear increased focus on attack.

Ever since luring him from Geelong, coach Guy McKenna has dreamed of the day when he could send the Brownlow Medallist forward to swing games without losing too much out of the middle.

If that day has not yet arrived, it can't be far away on evidence of this win.

In Ablett's absence, ruckman Charlie Dixon, hardnut Danny Stanley, livewire Brandon Matera and the classy Harley Bennell more than picked up his slack - and against one of the AFL's premier midfields.

That allowed the captain to engineer six inside 50 entries, one goal and three score assists to go with his par-for-the-course 23 disposal haul.

"He was able to go forward and perform the role and kick crucial goals and set up crucial goals as only he can do," McKenna said.

"I'm not saying he's handed over the baton - that's a long way before that happens, as far as getting out of the centre (is concerned).

"But him having the trust now in some of those blokes to go there and get it forward for him certainly helps our side.

"It's probably taken him two years to let go a bit, he's a very proud skipper and he wants to lead from the front."

McKenna could barely hide his glee after the victory, describing it as the best in the club's short history.

"We haven't had too many but quite clearly, it was," he said.

What made it so was Gold Coast's massive, 20-man injury list - one that contains so many good players that would shape as a reasonable team on its own.

The spotlight was shone on the Suns' second and third-tier players, and they passed the test with flying colours.

"It's been a tough two years for the fellas," McKenna said.

"I thought we hung on as best we could in that third quarter but more importantly, the two years have certainly started to teach the boys a bit of grit.

"Out of the last month of exposing some of these boys, not having the availability of some of our senior and probably better players, for these kids to experience this (means) we've moved ahead.

"And against a side desperate to make the finals. For the boys, undermanned, to play that first half the way they did... (it) was fantastic."

Meanwhile, the club revealed that it had re-signed Dixon to a new two-year deal on Sunday.


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