North Melbourne coach Brad Scott says his players need to graduate from their schoolboy errors before they can call themselves a good side.
The Kangaroos were given a lesson in the art of skill and pressure in Saturday’s 73-point loss to premiership favourites Fremantle in Perth.
The result leaves North Melbourne precariously placed at 4-4 heading into tough games against Collingwood, West Coast, Sydney, and GWS.
North Melbourne reached a preliminary final last year, and were expected to challenge for the premiership this season.
But Scott says his side are way off the mark at the moment.
“We just got killed in terms of errors,” Scott said.
“Good sides don’t give up. I think we conceded 13 goals from turnovers – really soft goals – and good sides don’t do that.
“We’re not in the good side category yet because we are not defending well enough and producing consistently enough.
“Just some schoolboy stuff at times.”
Scott said the absence of prime movers Daniel Wells (Achilles tendon), Nick Dal Santo (hamstring), and Andrew Swallow (thumb) couldn’t be used as an excuse for their poor display.
“I thought the effort for the most part was ok, but we left too much to too few,” Scott said.
“We’ve got some guys that need to stand up and start playing an AFL brand of footy.”
Forward Jarrad Waite is in some doubt for Sunday’s clash with Collingwood at the MCG after hurting his foot early against the Dockers.
Waite was able to play out the match after receiving treatment, with Scott revealing the injury was a flare-up of a past complaint.
Fremantle (8-0) remain two wins clear on top of the table following their best ever start to an AFL season.
Nat Fyfe (37 disposals, 11 clearances) boosted his Brownlow medal chances with another best-on-ground display, while Michael Walters (four goals) produced his finest game of the season.
Skipper Matthew Pavlich was subbed off early in the last quarter as a precaution, but coach Ross Lyon expects the 33-year-old to play in Saturday night’s clash with the Crows in Adelaide.
“He came in with a slightly tight abductor, and it was a greasy night,” Lyon said.
“We were in the position to choose between Aaron Sandilands, Matthew Pavlich, David Mundy, Michael Johnson and Luke McPharlin (as the sub).
“Pavlich was the one tonight.”
Fremantle have been able to keep the majority of their best 22 out on the park this season.
Lyon knows injuries will come at some point, and he’s urging his charges to make the most of their good run while the sun is shining.
“It’s a long hard year, it’s a marathon,” Lyon said.
“We’re a third of the way through. Anything can happen from here.”