NORTH Melbourne shrugged aside the challenge of Saint Kilda and made an important psychological point against a team that ”had their way with us” in the past, according to coach Brad Scott, when it ran out a convincing winner at Etihad Stadium to replace its opponent in the top eight.
North came from 26 points down early in the second quarter to gallop away to a 33-point victory, in the process jumping to eighth spot on the ladder with a 7-6 record. Crucially, the Kangaroos now also have a one-game buffer on the chasing pack as the scramble for a finals place hots up in the final third of the campaign.
But equally important, according to Scott, was the fact that his side had shown the physical commitment and toughness to see off a side that had given it problems when it had faced it in the recent past.
The coach said that in previous games he had sat up in a ”a glass box at Etihad and looked down and felt like a parent watching their kids being bullied in the schoolyard”.
On this occasion it was North who, if not quite acting as a bully, certainly exerted its authority and ultimately its dominance in a final-quarter shootout in which it kicked eight goals to five to seal the game.
The win, Scott said, was very important ”from a confidence-boosting perspective and a self belief perspective.”
Saint Kilda coach Scott Watters cut a glum figure in the post-match press conference as he conceded his side was ”sloppy” and beaten in the critical mid-field area, He was also angry at the fadeout in the final minutes of the game in which North sealed its triumph.
”Some of our better mid-fielders were slightly down, and their better mid-fielders shaded them. They looked sharper and applied more pressure.”
St Kilda star Brendon Goddard was effectively tagged by Sam Wright all day, having just 12 kicks, of which six were effective, and the Saints man showed his frustration in an off-the-ball clash with the North youngster. Scott, when asked about the incident, said Wright ”came back and continued to play well. I think last year Brendon Goddard commented when Jack Ziebell cannoned into (Nick) Riewoldt and Brendon had some things to say then.”
Watters would not be drawn on the matter. ”It’s pretty difficult to work out what happened. When you have taggers playing close attention you are going to get these altercations,” the Saints boss said.
Justin Koschitzke had an ineffectual match with just three handballs to his name but the big Saints forward was vomiting throughout the game. Watters admitted that he had not been right going into the game.
”The reality is that you are rarely 100 per cent. He had to battle through.”
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