MELBOURNE has fallen short in a tough and hot affair against Gold Coast on Saturday.

The Suns' young key position players proved the difference in a 25-point practice match win in the heat in Southport.

The Suns led by just two points at half-time, but five goals to one in the third quarter put the game beyond reach.

The Suns won 0.12.8 (80) to 0.8.7 (55).

After a promising first quarter where they led by nine points, the Demons stalled for the following two terms.

They were without tall timber Mitch Clark, Chris Dawes and James Frawley, which made a difference.

Jack Watts was arguably the best player on the ground (25 disposals), roving around half-back and looking a class above his teammates.

Captain Jack Grimes tried hard all day and won plenty of the ball (22 disposals), while young forward Jesse Hogan looked sharp in his limited opportunities.

After a scrappy first half on a lush surface, the injection of Zac Smith into the ruck and move of Charlie Dixon forward sparked the Suns.

Dixon started the damage with two contested marks – a juggling one-hander and a leaping grab from the side of the pack – that resulted in two goals.

After sitting on the bench for the first half, Smith then drifted forward and took a contested mark of his own and converted from a tight angle to extend the lead to 19 points.

His impact was profound both in the ruck and around the ground and should almost guarantee his place for the Suns' season opener against St Kilda in two weeks.

Steven May also took a pack mark in the forward 50 and Sam Day laid on an easy goal for Daniel Gorringe before being moved to defence where he looked right at home.

Aaron Hall kicked three goals for the winners, while captain Gary Ablett (24 touches and two goals) was his usual industrious self.

GOLD COAST - 1.0 4.5 9.6 12.7 (79)
MELBOURNE - 2.3 4.3 5.5 8.7 (55)

Gold Coast
: Hall 3, Ablett 2, Dixon 2, Harbrow, Lonergan, Smith, Gorringe, Hutchins
Melbourne: Sellar 3, Terlich, Jamar, Pederson, M.Jones, Hogan

Gold Coast
: Ablett, Hall, Harbrow, Dixon, Prestia, Thompson
Melbourne: Watts, Grimes, Jamar, Terlich, Sellar

Gold Coast: Lonergan (wrist)
Melbourne: nil

Reports: Nil