NORTH Melbourne coach Brad Scott last night admitted the ''tank'' had run dry for his developing team, whose next challenge was to delve into the cracks that had been exposed by West Coast and become hardened to what it takes to win finals.
''The great thing about finals is it lays you bare, there's nowhere to hide,'' Scott said after the 16-goal defeat. ''You get opened up. Some players and clubs rise above that and they shine, and other players get exposed. Our challenge is to not paper over any cracks … keep turning over our list and finding guys who are competitive enough to stand up in big games like this one, in a hostile environment against quality opposition.''
Concluding that his team had been ''broken open'' and ''cracked'' by an opponent that ran harder and beat it at its own game, Scott conceded that fatigue had been a factor as they hadn't been able, mentally or physically, to sustain the hard-running style that took them into the finals through a strong second-half of the season.
''Once the tank ran dry, it really did. [But] I'm really proud of the guys getting to this point. We've had to expend every little bit of energy and competitiveness that we had to get to this point, [and] by the end they were just absolutely spent.
''The result is obviously bitterly disappointing - I'm shattered, we're a competitive club, I'm shattered with that. We'll have to live with that for a while, but I guarantee we'll be back.''
Scott pointed to the effort of Ben Cunnington in standing up ''under real heat'', and said if others among the 13 first-time finalists could make similar improvement, the club would be well placed. ''Our inside midfielders - [Andrew] Swallow, (Jack) Ziebell, Cunnington - were just terrific. But we had three terrific players out of 22, and clearly that's never going to be enough.''
Asked if frustration had crept in, notably as Brent Harvey felled Daniel Kerr off the ball, Scott pointed to Harvey's tagger, Adam Selwood, as the sort of player North needed to find for just such a stage.
''They had Adam Selwood doing his job, and we need to develop a player like that, who can go to someone like Luke Shuey and just terrorise him all day. Because we didn't have that today.''
The Roos trailed by 43 points at quarter-time, and conceded nine goals to one in the last term, but Swallow said they hadn't turned up their heels: ''The boys tried out there; we had a crack …''