North Melbourne crash out again - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

North Melbourne crash out again

By Greg Buckle 07/09/2008 03:24:47 PM Comments (0)

For the second year in a row North Melbourne have ended their AFL finals campaign on a sour note, farewelling a club great with heads bowed after a shocking defeat.

In 2007, the Kangaroos formed a guard of honour at AAMI Stadium as games record-holder Glenn Archer walked off the field for the last time following North's 87-point loss in the preliminary final against Port Adelaide.

Coach Dean Laidley insisted after Saturday night's 35-point elimination final exit at the hands of Sydney at ANZ Stadium that this year's team was better-equipped to make a run at the premiership.

The Kangaroos led by 10 points at halftime but were outscored 13 goals to five in the second half, unable to match the midfield dominance of Brett Kirk and ruckman Darren Jolly.

Laidley lamented after the game that No.1 ruckman Hamish McIntosh's knee injury had unbalanced the side, with McIntosh left out of the team because he wasn't back to full fitness.

In greasy conditions, North's goals came from Brent Harvey, David Hale, Ed Lower and 301-gamer Shannon Grant with two each.

Grant, 31, was applauded off the ground by his teammates after playing his 301st and final match before a disappointing crowd of 19,127.

Laidley described the loss, North's sixth in their past seven finals, as "very disappointing".

"It is disappointing for Shannon Grant. It really is disappointing to go out on that note," Laidley said of the 1999 Norm Smith medallist.

Grant said: "To capitulate the way we did was probably the most disappointing thing.

"Yeah I thought we were (closer to being a premiership threat this year).

"The way we played in that six-week bracket (with six consecutive wins from rounds 15 to 20) before the last two or three weeks, we played really good footy.

"I really thought the group had come of age and we'd really taken steps forward. But as a group we've probably gone backwards now."

North defender Jess Sinclair, who at 30 may have played his last game, was in tears after the siren.

Laidley was trying to see the positives of the season.

"If you're talking about premierships ... I would have thought we're closer this year than we were last year," Laidley said.

"When we walked off after preliminary final day I thought `hmm, we're a ways off it'.

"You know (Lachlan) Hansen and (Scott) McMahon (have done well) and (Ed) Lower was terrific tonight and (Matt) Campbell and (Lindsay) Thomas, they've won us games off their own boot and I think that's been a real step forward for us."

The retirement of 2005 All-Australian Grant leaves only Harvey, 30, and captain Adam Simpson, 32, from North's most recent flag in 1999.

North will evaluate the future of 30-year-old forward Nathan Thompson, who tried hard but had little impact against Sydney, and Aaron Edwards, who took eight marks but wasn't a threat.

"We didn't deliver. But to Sydney's credit they were terrific," said Grant, a former Swan who joined the Kangaroos in 1998 and was club champion in 2001.

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