Hawthorn have all but snuffed out Gold Coast's slim AFL finals hopes, holding off a final-quarter Suns fightback for a seven-point win in the milestone match of skipper Ben McEvoy.
Veteran Hawk Jack Gunston picked up five goals in Launceston on Saturday afternoon in the 10.10 (70) to 8.15 (63) result McEvoy's 250th appearance.
McEvoy picked up a crucial mark in defence inside the final two minutes as the Hawks scrambled to their eighth win of the year despite scoring just one point in the last term.
"For him to have his family there and to be part of a win ... it just makes it that much more special," Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell said.
"He's not the guy who's ever shied away from being in the spotlight. He's always in the key moment."
Despite leading at each change, the Hawks had some nervous moments late with the Gold Coast virtually setting up camp in their half.
Trailing by 17 points at three-quarter time, the Suns kicked the opening two goals of the fourth term and got within a goal with about five minutes left on the clock.
The Gold Coast were left to rue several muffed opportunities in the final quarter, with big man Mabior Chol and rookie Mac Andrew missing gettable set shots.
"Our starts have been poor and we did it again. We waited to see what the opposition had," Suns coach Stuart Dew said.
"We're sick of sounding like a broken record, giving teams head starts. It's ... what we spoke about after the game, 'why are we waiting?'."
The result leaves the Suns in 11th position, two wins outside the top eight with two matches remaining and requiring a host of results to fall their way.
Gunston was on fire early, picking up four of his five goals before halftime.
The Suns were slow out of the blocks and took until the 21st minute to register their opening major but trailed by just eight at the first break.
Hawthorn pulled ahead in the second term with three goals straight, including Gunston's third which was shortly followed by a fourth on the run, for a 21-point halftime lead.
Hawthorn's Jarman Impey was put on report in the third quarter for contact on Darcy Macpherson after he kicked the ball following a mark.
Despite having the breeze at their back in the all-important third term, the Suns could only equal Hawthorn's two goals.
Suns' livewire small forward Izak Rankine picked up just 11 disposals amid reports the Adelaide Crows have offered the 22-year-old a $4 million deal over five years.
Australian Associated Press
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