- from afl.com.au
NORTH Melbourne will not turn prematurely to youth, even if its already longshot finals status turns for the worse in the coming weeks.
The Saints consigned the turnover-prone Roos to a 4-8 win-loss record with a 17-point victory at Etihad Stadium on Friday night that beaten coach Brad Scott admitted "flattered" his side.
They are already two wins and significant percentage behind eighth-placed Essendon, but Scott will continue to pursue a finals berth until it is mathematically impossible.
"It's a strange season we'll continue to play to win," Scott told reporters.
"If that's a question around, 'Will we start to play around with our side to look at other players', no, we don't think those things are mutually exclusive at the moment.
"We've got a lot of players who we think can make us better, so we've got to look at the balance of the side. But we're still in that group of a number of teams who still have genuine hope to play in September and that's our ambition from this point on.
"So we'll keep trying to play footy that's capable of beating sides in September and we'll keep picking the team to win games to get enough wins to try and compete."
Declan Mountford had to bide his time for a second chance after making his AFL debut in round one, but looks set for an extended run after a successful defensive role on Saints star Jack Steven.
But Mountford's performance may not herald a new-look North line-up. Scott likes what lightly framed, first-year midfielder Josh Williams who is developing in the VFL has to offer, but was wary not to do him "a disservice" in promoting him too early.
Mitch Hibberd, Braydon Preuss and Sam Durdin are other young options who have strong VFL form behind them.
Scott said his top priority was finding increased time at training to work on his players' skills after they coughed up 10 more turnovers than St Kilda in a sloppy display.
The Roos also finished with 29 more handballs than kicks and repeatedly got themselves into trouble.
"I just thought we invited a good pressure side to pressure us and they took the invitation willingly," Scott said.
"There are some times where you need to accept that the opposition's pressure is coming at you and just keep it simple, and we knew what was coming it wasn't a surprise at all.
"We don't set out to, 'Let's have a certain kick-to-handball ratio today'. We attack based on what the opposition puts before us, in terms of the way we want to defend, and usually we're pretty good at discerning between the two.
"Tonight and particularly against Richmond (in round 11), we weren't."
Under-fire ruckman Todd Goldstein was one player who was able to work into some form after a difficult stretch. He edged out Saints counterpart Billy Longer in the hit-outs department (34-29) and won 17 disposals to Longer's six.
"I thought Goldy took a really good step forward today," Scott said.
"He could have impacted the scoreboard (more) (but) I thought his work-rate around the contest was really good.
"I said during the week it's sometimes a really fine line for the big guys. Is it premature to say he turned the corner? I thought he took a step forward at least."