Coach takes aim at North’s biggest flaw

A frustrated North Melbourne coach David Noble has stressed that his Kangaroos cannot be a team that “rallies for a bloody quarter” following their thumping 12-goal loss to Essendon on Sunday evening.

Outside of the third term at Marvel Stadium, when North outscored the Bombers by 10 points, it was one-way traffic towards Essendon’s end of the ground in what was a largely dominant performance by Ben Rutten’s side.

“We only rallied for a quarter, though. That’s not good enough,” Noble said.

“The frustrating and disappointing thing is we’ve got to rally from the start.

“That’s not substantiable, we don’t want to have quarters where we just bounce and we go, ‘Yep, that’s good enough’. It’s just clearly not good enough.

“It was really poor on our side. We let them start well, we couldn’t wrestle anything back.

“We clearly got a lesson today on quick use of the ball, turnover, punishing the opposition from that side of things.

“We thought we had learnt some areas from last week (against Hawthorn) and we weren’t able to sustain it.

“The solution is the guys that go on the paddock have got to bring the right energy, they’ve got to bring the right level of combativeness to compete and we didn’t do that from the start today.”

Noble took over as coach of the Kangas this season. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

After losing their first three games by an average of 80 points, North Melbourne had put together an encouraging block of performances between rounds four and nine, and Noble was confident Sunday’s match wouldn’t herald a consistent return to their alarming early-season form.

The Kangaroos actually won the inside-50 and clearance counts against Essendon, but were let down terribly by their inefficiency up forward and on the flip side were punished severely by the Bombers’ slick connection in attack.

“Our post-clearance release wasn’t good enough – they were able to get to the fall of the ball quicker than we did,” Noble said.

“We just couldn’t chase them down out of that stoppage and we were really good at that last week.”

Todd Goldstein and Nick Larkey spent some time off the ground with a few injury complaints, but returned to the field of battle and Noble expected them both to line up against St Kilda next week.

The fact the contest was over by halftime pleased Rutten the most and he was encouraged by his side’s ability to keep their foot on North’s throat after failing to capitalise on such scenarios earlier in the season when the Bombers got out to big leads but weren’t able finish off the job.

Essendon next assignment is a daunting one – West Coast in Perth – and Rutten was keen for his side to not only win its first interstate game of the year, but also prove themselves against a top-eight contender especially with only a couple of games now separating the Eagles and Dons on the ladder.

“That’s where our group needs to go now, to keep experiencing, we want to be in these games against other teams around us and then ultimately start being a real threat and beating the higher teams on the ladder. That’s where we’re heading as a group,” Rutten said.

Big man Peter Wright copped a nasty cut above his left eye late in the game, but Rutten said it didn’t look as though he was experiencing any concussive symptoms post-match.

In a further boost for the Bombers, Jake Stringer (hamstring) and Sam Draper (ankle) are a chance of returning next week, but whether that’s via the VFL or AFL is still yet to be determined.

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