- from afl.com.au
ROOKIE errors and a lack of polish – and not bad luck – cost North Melbourne in its three-point loss to the Western Bulldogs on Good Friday, according to Kangaroos coach Brad Scott.
North led the reigning premiers by 29 points at the six-minute mark of the third quarter after kicking six consecutive goals.
Even after the Bulldogs then hit back with five unanswered majors to reclaim the lead, North kept fighting, its bid for its first win of 2017 alive until the dying seconds when Lindsay Thomas missed a shot on goal from 45m.
Along the way, North was also on the end of two controversial umpiring decisions.
The first came late in the third term when Bulldog Josh Dunkley received a free kick under the third man-up rule for being blocked at a ruck contest despite the fact Marcus Bontempelli appeared to put his arm up to nominate as the Dogs ruckman.
Then in the dying minutes of the game North defender Scott Thompson was penalised for deliberate of bounds when an apparent attempt to knock the ball to a teammate spilled over the boundary line.
Scott addressed both umpiring decisions indirectly after the game.
On the third-man-up free kick, he said North's midfield coaches hadn't been "overly happy" with the decision, but he hadn't had time during the game to worry about "spilt milk" and hadn't reviewed footage of the incident after the game.
Scott said he philosophically agreed with the 'third man up' rule, but felt it has "some anomalies" that need addressing.
The Roos coach also supported "the spirit" of the deliberate out of bounds rule, but suggested Thompson had been unfairly penalised.
"You're four points down, you're trying to win a game, we're not trying to hit it out of bounds," Scott said.
"That's just where a bit of game understanding comes in, but the umpires have communicated to us that if the players are in doubt they'll pay it.
"So that's a fairly negative basis there in terms of where we sit."
Scott's main concern, however, was on his own team's shortcomings when the game was on the line.
"We could sit here and say, 'Oh gee, we were unlucky' but that wouldn't be the case. We didn't capitalise on our dominance in parts of the game and we gave up too many easy goals at crucial times when the flow of the game was going our way," Scott said.
"So we've got to make sure that while we're disappointed we don't feel sorry for ourselves and label ourselves as unlucky.
"I thought the hunger and fight was fantastic. I thought they really had a lot of belief that we could get over the line and that's really promising.
"But if we were sitting here in victory because that last (Thomas) kick was straight, there's still some things (that need addressing) – rookie errors made by a bit of a rookie team.
"So we've got to spend some time fixing that but, again, if the framework and the fundamentals weren't there then we would be really concerned, but really it's a few rookie errors and some general polish that hurt us."
North's 0-4 start to 2017 is its worst opening to a season since Scott's second year at North in 2011.
But he said he had been "pleasantly surprised" by what North's young group had achieved in the JLT Community Series and its competitiveness over the opening four rounds of the home and away season.
"The challenge is for us to keep ourselves together and not drop our bundle, and hopefully all our fans can see what we're doing when they see a genuinely competitive effort each week," he said.
"But I think everyone's patience will be tested if we keep falling short after a really good effort.
"We should have been able to clinch a couple of games at least this year."