A devastated Trent Cotchin said he felt “empty” after his side fell to North Melbourne by 17 points in the first elimination final at the MCG on Sunday.
The Tigers have now lost three elimination finals in the past three years and shattered club captain, Cotchin, admits they simply have to pick up the pieces over the off-season after yet another wasted opportunity.
“We felt that we were capable of matching it with any team in the competition,” Cotchin said.
“Reality is a team came out and they were a little bit hungrier today and showed us that you can’t be off by five, ten, 15 or 20 per cent, because you won’t win the game.”
Cotchin was disappointed in his own personal performance, the midfielder kept to just nine possessions by North tagger Ben Jacobs.
“I let the boys down. As captain you want to be there at the coal face, winning footy for your teammates, that is my job and I didn’t perform that today.”
The Tigers made the early running in the match and led by as many as 21 points early in the second quarter, before North Melbourne took control and started to dominate the contested possessions.
In the end the Roos won the critical statistic 148-115 and Cotchin said it was where North had won the game.
“It is disappointing, we gave ourselves an opportunity, we let ourselves down with contested footy and clearances, but the challenge for us is to get back on the horse over the pre-season and come back bigger and better next season.
“There were the moments when (we) just pick and chose (to contest), and you are not able to do than in AFL footy, its a tough game and North were just better today.”
Cotchin dismissed suggestions the Tigers had run out of legs, and North who had rested nine players when the two teams met in round 23, had been the fresher side.
“We had nine days, which is a lot longer than the normal break and in recent weeks, through the season we perform on the back of six day breaks, no excuses from a freshness point of view.”
The reward for North Melbourne is another elimination final, this time when they take on Sydney on Saturday night, at ANZ Stadium.