Karmichael Hunt experiment pays off for Gold Coast

 IT does fizzle out this year, the Karmichael Hunt 'experiment' will have paid off big time for Gold Coast.

Hunt could return to the NRL, or Super Rugby next season, and both player and club would be content with the fact he had played almost 50 senior games (44 senior so far) for the Suns - almost 50 more than many expected.

But, the trailblazer's lasting legacy in the AFL could be Harley Bennell carving out one of the great modern-day careers ... at the Gold Coast.

In one of the best individual performances of 2014, Bennell put on an absolute clinic as the Suns registered arguably their most significant win on Saturday night.

Not only was it the first time they had beaten Geelong, they did it emphatically (40 points), and shored up their spot in the top eight.

Against the Cats, Bennell continuously pounced like a cat, the 22-year-old finishing with 27 disposals, 11 marks and six goals, while having a hand in three others. His only blemish was not slotting a new club-record seventh major at the death.

While Gary Ablett would have been rapt to have finally notched a win against his old side, the skipper certainly would not have got three Brownlow votes, despite gathering 33 possessions himself.

The No.2 pick in the 2010 national draft, behind team-mate David Swallow, West Australian Bennell suffered extreme homesickness and discipline issues during his first season, and was even suspended at one stage by the club after deliberately missing a flight back from Perth.

And if not for Hunt taking him under the wing, the young midfielder may not only have been lost to Gold Coast, but the game itself.

With Hunt as his mentor, Bennell has become a committed individual, and built himself into a powerful machine that will only complement his sublime skills.

While a calf injury has meant he has only played just six games this year, having a fit and firing Bennell in the second half of the season might just allow the Suns to reach their first finals series.

Bennell, who only last month re-signed with the Suns until 2017, is only just warming up.

"I'm happy where I'm at, I'm happy that I'm staying here. This is my home," he said yesterday.

To think everyone was beginning to bemoan what the game was becoming after Friday night's lacklustre clash between Richmond and Sydney, when just 16 goals were scored at the MCG, including one by the Tigers in the last 80 minutes of play.

You could have seen more goals kicked in one of those games being played in Brazil.

But, what sets Aussie rules apart from the rest, is the capacity to score heavily, and players such as Bennell, Port Adelaide's Jay Schulz (eight goals), Travis Cloke (five) and Hayden Ballantyne (five) reminded everyone on Saturday.

Unfortunately for Brisbane, however, the wet conditions and Fremantle conspired against it at Perth's Patersons Stadium, the Lions kicking their lowest ever total (22).

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