Silver lining in Kangaroos’ loss

By Darren Dawson

North lost by three points on Saturday night. Yes, it would have been wonderful to win the shoot-out at Etihad. But I came away from the game feeling a sense of relief, and not disappointment, that the Kangaroos were now unlikely to be fronting up in the finals. I have long been a believer that scraping into the final eight – and indeed any finals system which ensures that at least half the teams in the competition qualify for post regular-season action – can cause more harm than good in the longer term. Certainly, North Melbourne’s finals performances in the Dean Laidley era are a case in point.

I am sure that every player at Arden St would disagree, but I just cannot help feeling that squeezing into the eight and then getting smashed by either a Dockers outfit on home soil or seasoned finals campaigner Hawthorn at the ‘G would be detrimental to the development of the younger Roos. Sure, there is always the chance that we could pull off a victory against the odds, but it is unlikely. I listened with interest to various Melbourne players who, in the wake of their destruction of the Swans, waxed lyrical about the mathematical chances of the Demons finishing in the eight. I wonder if Dean Bailey, in his heart of hearts, is as enthusiastic about seeing September action this year?  For teams with such young midfields as the Demons and Roos, the season is a long and arduous trek. The finals are another step again. Just ask Essendon. Matthew Knights was lauded for taking the Bombers to the finals last season, but has that pummelling they then received had an effect on their performance this year?

I have been re-energised by the glimpses of the future that the Kangaroos have brought to me this season, but remain fearful that a premature finals ejection would do more harm than good. Finishing a competitive ninth or tenth (which would yet be a remarkable effort given the Kangas’ run home), would to me, offer more promise of further improvement than being sent packing in week one of September.

About Darren Dawson

I miss the 1970's and the old Arden Street.

Comments

  1. Good points, Darren. In hindsight, I reckon Matty Knights would have loved to have finished 9th last year. (See, Tiger-fans? There are many positives in a 9th-placed finish!)

    On the other hand, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind if the following scenario played out:

    R18: ESS, COLL, PORT, GEEL, BRIS, RICH, NM, FREM
    R19: ESS, HAW, NM, GEEL, WCO, STK, MELB, WB
    R20: ESS, RICH, SYD, WB, PORT, ADEL, MELB, NM
    R21: CARL, RICH, HAW, ADEL, WB, PORT, ESS, NM
    R22: STK, HAW, WCO, PORT, CARL, NM, BRIS, WB

    This would give us the following ladder after Round 22:

    BULLDOGS 60
    GEELONG 60
    COLLINGWOOD 58
    ST KILDA 58
    NORTH MELB 52
    HAWTHORN 50
    FREMANTLE 48
    CARLTON 44
    —————————
    Sydney 40
    Essendon 40
    Port Adelaide 40
    Adelaide 36
    Melbourne 34
    Richmond 32
    Brisbane 28
    West Coast 24

    FINALS:

    Week 1: WB d STK, GEEL d COLL, NM d CARL, HAW d FREM
    Week 2: NM d STK, HAW d COLL
    Week 3: WB d HAW, NM d GEEL
    GRAND FINAL: Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne

    But you have to let us (us = Doggies) win the GF. You’ve already had a premiership in your lifetime!

  2. Tony Robb says:

    Gigs
    Thats the most imaginative use of a crystal ball since the Wizard of Oz
    TR

  3. smokie88 says:

    Gigs,
    I think I will re-consider and thus settle for a fifth-placed finish based on the above scenario.
    (And as my wife barracks for the Bulldogs, your mooted G F match-up would make for an interesting
    situation in our household).
    DD

  4. Darren, I know exactly what you mean. I was annoyed with our loss on the weekend, which has almost effectively snuffed out our finals hopes, but relieved that we won’t go through the trauma of a thrashing at the hands of Hawthorn/Fremantle in week one of the finals, plus all the newspaper articles after that reading “North no good” etc. etc. etc.

    Finishing 9th or 10th would be a fantastic result for us, as we were widely tipped for the wooden spoon (but when aren’t we?) but, even if we do manage to make the finals, I feel as if a heavy loss wouldn’t matter. Brad Scott has a good head on his shoulders, he is leading the team well.

  5. Andrew Starkie says:

    Gday Darren,

    Always good to meet another Roo.

    I agree and disagree with what you’ve written. I think you’re right when you suggest our young team isn’t ready for finals yet. September action, however brief, may lead to our guys getting ahead of themselves and expecting too much success too soon. Having said that, the new coach is really impressing me with his ability to keep our boys in ‘the moment’, so he should be able to monitor that.

    I don’t agree that those teams that finish 5-8 are simply making up the numbers. Remember’97 and ’98 (different finals system, I know)? Winning in week one of the finals can open the way for a club to go deep into September. And I’m not convinced a thumping in a final sets a team back in terms of its performances the next year. To be honest, I think the Crows’ heart-stopping loss to the Pies last September had a greater effect on their season than Essendon’s 100 point loss to Adelaide.

    Last round’s loss probably ended our finals chances. I’d be happy with 10-11 wins and 9th place.

    Go Roos!

  6. smokie88 says:

    Andrew,
    You make a couple of good points re finishing 5-8. Speaking hypothetically, if the top 4 this season were to be Geel/Coll/WB/StK, with Hawthorn 5th, this would mean that 1 v 4 & 2 v 3 & 5 v 8 are all Melbourne games. If the Hawks win, they get a home semi-final…very, very do-able.
    Like most North people, I have been impressed by B Scott. But I guess the memories of most Laidley-era finals remain fresh.
    DD

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