You can’t keep a champion down for long.
Gary Ablett showed plenty of grit to respond from a disappointing first half as Gold Coast claimed a 45-point win over the Western Bulldogs on Sunday to move to third spot on the AFL ladder.
Restricted to just eight disposals, including a kick out on the full, the Suns’ skipper was a frustrated man as the home team could only eke out a six-point halftime lead over the Bulldogs.
But the dual Brownlow Medallist responded in the third quarter, notching four clearances to send his teammates on their way to the 18.11 (119) to 10.14 (74) victory.
Ablett left the scoring to the Suns’ rising stable of stars with talls Charlie Dixon and Tom Lynch kicking four majors each while Brandon Matera kicked three.
Dion Prestia picked up the slack in Ablett’s first-half absence, ending the match with a game-high 35 disposals while former Bulldog Jarrod Harbrow had 26 disposals.
Ablett (24) ended the match with the third-most touches for the Suns.
But Ablett was still unable to avoid the headlines in the first half, involved in a ground-level contest which resulted in Bulldog Adam Cooney being reported for high contact.
Cooney slid into Ablett as the Sun was crouched over the ball, appearing to make contact with his head as well as catching Ablett’s legs with his slide.
Daniel Giansiracusa made a cameo appearance as the Bulldogs’ sub, kicking two goals, while Cooney and Jason Tutt had two majors each for the visitors.
Matthew Boyd had a team-high 30 disposals for the Bulldogs.