- from afl.com.au
BRAD Scott has not seen North Melbourne's midfield look as "flat" as it did in Saturday's 23-point loss to the Western Bulldogs for some time, but the Roos coach is not concerned ahead of the finals.
Despite Todd Goldstein's dominance of the ruck, North lost the clearances 35-44 to the Bulldogs, and was particularly poor at around-the-ground stoppages, losing that count 20-32.
Although skipper Andrew Swallow (25 possessions and seven clearances) could hold his head high, Ben Cunnington (13 and five) was well held by Liam Picken, Jack Ziebell (15 and five) struggled on his return from a one-week suspension, and Nick Dal Santo (17 and five) and Ryan Bastinac (16 and two) both had little influence.
The seventh-placed Roos now have just one game to turn things around before the finals, next Friday night's showdown with Richmond, who entered round 22 in fifth spot.
But Scott told reporters he was not worried about his midfield's lacklustre performance against the Bulldogs, and suggested it was an aberration.
"I haven't seen our mids probably that flat for a while, but that's unusual, I don't think that's something that's going to affect us going forward," Scott said.
"They've been up for a long time. They've been terrific for us and it's not something that's happened much before, so I'm not concerned about it."
The Roos entered Saturday's game on a seven-game winning streak that took them from 11th on the ladder after round 14 to a certain finals spot.
But Scott did not necessarily think that effort had drained his players and wasn't sure whether he would need to give them a light week on the track to freshen them up before the Richmond clash.
"I said they looked flat. That doesn't mean that they're necessarily tired, it's just that they were a bit stagnant in and around the contest," he said.
North could face the Bulldogs again in the first week of the finals, with both teams set to finish in the bottom half of the top eight.
If that clash eventuates, Scott inferred Saturday's result would not have much bearing on the game.
Although North had gathered "some pretty good information for us to improve as a team" against the Bulldogs, Scott downplayed how much significance that would have in a return elimination final clash.
Similarly, the Roos coach did not think the fact any elimination final between the two teams would almost certainly be played at the MCG would have any influence on the result.
"We'll just do our homework on whoever we play," Scott said.