I watched the match on Friday night between North Melbourne and Hawthorn. It was right from the start a fierce, bloodied, rough, tough and dirty match, that showed in the end, what one team is capable of and what another is not capable of. This all came down in the end, to how a team in midst of obstacles put against them, stood up and despite the battles, fought and won. It is how a coach based on the information told by his players, stomped and stamped like a petulant child and lay the blame on someone else’s shoulders for losing.
Brad Scott at his press conference stated that the umpires told North players that Thomas would not get free kicks because he ducks. Well, to be perfectly honest, he does. Scott indicated that they teach players how to duck and Thomas, well, ducks on purpose to get a free kick. But today the North club administrators have come out and stated that, nope, at no time did any of the umpires make that statement about Thomas and ducks. Scott decided without getting his facts straight first, to make a blatant and immature statement based on the anger from his players who lost a great footy battle. In the process, Scott has lost some respect and credibility, in my mind and this is, in my view, the reason why North are not a Premiership team.
From the first bounce of the ball, the game was rife with battles both with the ball and without. It was an intentional ploy to rattle the Hawthorn cages and for the first half, they did just that, but they concentrated far too much on those battles than the battle to win the match. North had 6 more scoring shots, 27 more contested possessions and 6 more inside 50’s, yet they still lost. They argued too much, swore too much and even spat a little. They became bullies on the field because they thought that is what it took to become a winning club. They were wrong. Hawthorn showed poise and intelligence when it came to final quarter, they played their game and rose to the occasion, that is what makes a winning club.
Commentators have been pondering why no one really rates North as a Premiership team, Friday night showed them why. Being a premiership team is not about the fighting on the field to rattle your opponent’s cages, it’s not about the fake ducks or the roughness of knocking your opponent to the ground. It is about how to take every opportunity to get the ball into your forward line and kick the goals. It is about the skill, the intensity and need to rise above whatever an opponent throws at you that will make you a winning team.
For Carlton, this match should be looked at intently not because of the way North played as a whole, but the way that Hawthorn never let the opposition wear them down, get into their heads or bully them into submission. Because in the end, that is what makes a winning team.