AFL coaches open to unlikely flag winner

It could be wishful thinking but North Melbourne coach Brad Scott is part of a growing group of people that believe the 2015 AFL premiers could come from outside the top four.

And among AFL coaches, he’s not alone.

In the space of half an hour, the full-time sirens at the MCG and Spotless Stadium whittled the field of potential finalists from 12 to just 10.

Richmond’s 91-point win over Collingwood just bettered Sydney’s 89-point victory over GWS Giants, leaving the beaten sides with no mathematical hopes of playing finals football.

But it speaks volumes of the strength of the league that those sides are seemingly fighting for fourth place, and could finish as low as eighth.

To Scott, it suggests there’s plenty of strength outside the top four finishers.

“People have been talking about the possibility of someone making a charge from outside the top four,” he said.

“I think that’s a legitimate chance this year.

“You see the result between Port Adelaide and Hawthorn … if you’re a little bit off and the opposition are really good, you can get beaten.”

Adelaide stands alone as the only team to win the flag from outside the top four, when they won back-to-back flags in 1998 from fifth place.

Richmond are in the mix to finish fifth, and coach Damien Hardwick said after his thumping win that anything was still possible for his surging Tigers.

“Like most sides, there’s no ceiling on what you can do if you if you play good enough footy at any stage you can beat anyone,” he said.

“We’ll just worry about our challenge next week and that’s the Bombers, we’ll worry about finals when we get there.”

Having witnessed the impressive Tigers first-hand, Magpies coach Nathan Buckley said he expected the Tigers to perform well in September.

“All credit to (Richmond), they play a really solid brand of footy,” he said.

“I think they’ll give a good account of themselves.”

He didn’t rule out the prospect of a lower-ranked finalist making a run but acknowledged he was seeing things from a “glass half empty” point of view.

“I get a sense that most sides that are up in the finals are beatable,” he said.

“More weekends than not they’ve been able to just get over their opposition when they’ve had to … they’ve won the games and they’ve seized the moments.

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