Brad Scott never doubted Kangaroos would rebound
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott says he never doubted his side would bounce back hard against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday or that skipper Brent Harvey would fight through a thumb fracture.
The Kangaroos rebounded from a record 117-point loss to Collingwood a week ago to notch a crucial 21.16 (142) to 17.9 (111) win over the Bulldogs in an exhilarating, see-sawing Etihad Stadium clash.
Star forward Drew Petrie kicked 5.5, including three vital late goals, Harvey overcame a quiet start to have a big late impact, while midfielders Jack Ziebell, Andrew Swallow and Daniel Wells starred with 110 disposals between them.
While Petrie, Harvey, Swallow and Wells are established as four of the club’s best players, it was a breakout game for Ziebell.
The tough 21-year-old, whose previous two AFL seasons were hampered by broken legs, amassed 41 touches, including 11 disposals and four tackles in a huge last quarter.
“One of our recruiters said to me, sometimes a player’s not the quickest, he’s not the strongest, he’s not the best kick, but he can just play and Jack Ziebell can just play,” Scott said.
“I think all North supporters have seen what Jack’s capable of.
“But I think this is the first time they should really sit back and say ‘Gee, he really can play, he can be an elite player.’”
In a match of big swings, the Dogs jumped to a 20-point lead in the first term, North surged back to lead by 33 points in the third, before the Bulldogs charged again to regain the lead early in the last.
There were seven lead changes in the first 15 minutes of the last quarter, before the Kangaroos powered away with six of the last seven goals.
Harvey kicked one of those and set up another to Petrie, overcoming both the pain of a thumb fractured against Collingwood last weekend and a one-touch first term.
“It’s probably another case for mind over matter,” Scott said of Harvey.
“He just said ‘I’m playing, so work out a way to get me out there, that’s all there is to it.’
“He’s a unique player and a unique person, so we’re really fortunate to have him.”
Scott felt fortunate himself to coach a club with the Kangaroos’ renowned fighting spirit.
“Last week is not what our football club is about and we’ll never accept that. The response today showed the true character that’s within the team,” he said.
The ‘Roos climbed to 11th spot, six points adrift of the top eight, but ahead of the 12th-placed Bulldogs on percentage.
Dogs coach Rodney Eade lamented that having built a four-game winning streak on discipline and hard work, his players dropped off in both areas on Sunday.
“We dug ourselves a hole, we were slowly climbing out of it, but we still had some tough games and a lot of footy to play,” Eade said.
“From that aspect it was certainly disappointing, I think as a group, but there were obviously some individuals that were disappointing.”© AAP 2013