Should the Lions be worried?
The Lions have finished their four games in 16 days with three wins and a loss. After beginning the stretch with a demolition of Essendon, they have finished it off with defeat against Richmond and two less than impressive victories over the Bulldogs and Kangaroos.
The old adage goes that champion teams find a way to win even when they aren’t playing well but does that apply in this case? Should the Lions bank the points and file the performances in the ‘winning ugly file’ or should they be more concerned?
Content to put the results down to fatigue, Chris Fagan seems less concerned than others about the Lions form. “We have just come off playing four games in 13 days. We did actually look a bit flat, we didn’t have our usual zip or energy … but (we were) not complacent,” Fagan said.
We are inclined to agree with him. With a big game against the Saints coming up in Round 13 though, they will need to be much better next week if they are to avoid this question rearing its head once again.
How the Game Was Won
The Kangaroos won the clearance battle and the possession count but, with 10 players under 22, they ultimately lacked the direction and structure of the Lions. Forced into over possession and overuse of the handball, they were unable to create as many scoring opportunities as their more fancied opponents.
More direct, with more inside 50s and marks inside 50, the Lions ability to find more targets up forward was telling. Though it could have been more so if not for their recurring goal kicking woes which left the door ajar for the Kangaroos late when it should have been well and truly slammed shut.
What the Coaches Said
Despite the result, Rhyce Shaw was please with his team’s effort. “We certainly are, as a coaching group and as a club, really proud of that performance,” he said. “I think our fans should be as well. I was really pleased with the guys’ attitude this week. It must be very difficult for them to keep rocking up each week, but they just continue to do it.”
“We haven’t been getting the results and we’re disappointed with losing today, but I’m really proud of the guys and the way they went about their footy today,” he said. “To come out here and just play to the plan, play with great effort and play the way we want to play as the North Melbourne Footy Club was really pleasing.
“That’s the standard for us moving forward.”
“We just kept at it and we’ve kicked four goals in the last quarter to their (the Lions’) two,” Shaw said. “I thought we had a lot of momentum in that last quarter, and that’s a really pleasing sign for us. Especially when you’ve got those younger guys out there, they can have a tendency to drop off, but our guys didn’t. They actually started thriving on it, which was pleasing.
“We didn’t get the result, but guys started to really take control and I was really pleased with some of the efforts.”
Pleased to get the result, Chris Fagan denied his team had received a wake up call. “Ï don’t feel like we dodged a bullet. I think North Melbourne played really well – they competed right to the very end,” he said. “We probably should have taken more of our chances earlier … but at the end of the day we got four points and that is all that matters.
“Not every game goes to the script that everyone thinks it will. I didn’t think we played great but I am glad that we were able to get away with points. We have just come off playing four games in 13 days. We did actually look a bit flat, we didn’t have our usual zip or energy … but (we were) not complacent,” Fagan said.
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.3 3.3 4.3 8.4 (52)
BRISBANE 1.5 3.6 5.9 7.11 (53)
North Melbourne: Larkey 2, Xerri 2, Zurhaar 2, Scott, Murphy
Brisbane: McCarthy 2, McInerney 2, McStay, Hipwood, Bailey
North Melbourne: Simpkin, Goldstein, Anderson, McDonald, Higgins
Brisbane: Lyons, Zorko, Neale, McInerney, Birchall, Bailey
North Melbourne: Walker (hamstring), Tarrant (calf) replaced in selected side by Xerri