Andrew Swallow is congratulated by teammate Aaron Edwards after kicking a goal at Etihad Stadium yesterday. Photo: Paul Rovere
NORTH Melbourne threatened a second consecutive fade-out of catastrophic proportions against Brisbane Lions yesterday, coming away with a win that gave the Kangaroos a measure of redemption but more concerns for coach Brad Scott.
Humiliated by the loss against Port Adelaide the week before - Port came from 32 points down with 13 minutes to play - North threw away a chance to crush the Lions at the Docklands yesterday.
Leading by 58 points early in the third quarter, Scott's team finally won by just 16. The Lions kicked 10 goals to four in the second half.
''I understand that the inability to stop the opposition getting a run-on could be concerning, but I would be more concerned if that was because we were being beaten in a contest, or panicking under pressure or we're running out of steam,'' said Scott.
''I don't believe it's any of those things. I believe it's simple fundamentals. Last week, the players are really aware of what those things were. Largely we addressed those things today.
''But we need a really consistent performance across four quarters, there's no doubt.
''I'm really confident we're on the right track. We're a little inconsistent at the moment, but that's our challenge.''
Scott said he did not feel threatened, pointing out that Brisbane kicked two goals in the final minute to reduce the margin inside three goals.
''When there's a minute to go and you're 28 points up, I don't think you feel under threat. Although after last week, you never know.''
Although he had called the Port Adelaide defeat ''bewildering'', Scott said he focused on finding reasons during the week. ''It wasn't lack of run, it wasn't panicking under pressure. It was simple defensive actions and not only defensive, some of it offensive as well.
''Unfortunately when you string a few of those in a row, it gives the opposition a run-on. Now we need to get better at countering that, for sure. But the players are really clear as to what those things are.''
In the post-mortem from Adelaide, Scott said North reacted clinically. ''Thirty-two points up with 13 minutes to go … I understand the vitriol. We play an emotional game; that's what makes it great. But my job as coach is not to get emotional. My job is to identify the reasons and fix them.''
The Roos' coach said the win was as important for supporters as for the players. ''Their morale can get down when you have demoralising losses. Internally, we focus on the facts. There's no doubt it was demoralising.
''It was very simple, the things that cost us. So yes, it's good for the supporters. For us, I'm sitting here pleased that we won, but still acutely aware that we've got a lot to work on.''
Kangaroos ruckman Todd Goldstein and midfielder Andrew Swallow dominated, especially early. And emerging defender Luke Delaney kept Brisbane skipper Jonathan Brown to two goals - even taking on the fearsome forward in one of several melees that dotted the match.
Small forward Lindsay Thomas is expected to be fit for his 100th game against Hawthorn next weekend, after his late withdrawal yesterday.
Scott said it was an ''unfortunate reality'' that Thomas, who has an unspecified injury, had his family fly in from Western Australia for the milestone game that did not happen.
Midfielder Jack Ziebell was substituted out of the game in the third quarter with back bruising from the week before. ''It wasn't a new injury today,'' said Scott. ''It was a hangover from last week.''
Brisbane remains a cellar-dweller with just three wins, and captain Brown will face scrutiny from the match review panel for a late hit on Delaney in the second quarter after Delaney had taken a mark. The incident led to an all-in brawl.
''We had to chase all the way down and that didn't leave us enough time,'' said coach Michael Voss.
Voss was unimpressed with his side's first half, but convinced of a bright future for his players with their second-half performance.
''If we continue to play that style of footy within in the second half, then I'm sure wins will come,'' Voss said.