Kangaroos face tough Magpies test: Harvey - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kangaroos face tough Magpies test: Harvey

By Guy Hand 06/07/2011 04:29:21 PM Comments (0)

North Melbourne skipper Brent Harvey has challenged his side - beat a top-four team soon or we'll miss the AFL finals.

North sit in the traffic queue at the fringe of the top eight, but have been uncompetitive against top four sides throughout coach Brad Scott's reign at the club.

But now how they perform against the best in the game will determine whether they play finals.

First North face premiers Collingwood at the MCG on Sunday in a crucial test of their credentials and improvement.

And they also face top-four sides Carlton and Hawthorn in the next five weeks - Harvey well aware they must break their drought against the competition's best to make the eventual top eight.

"We play the top four teams other than Geelong and it's a huge challenge for our footy club," Harvey said.

"If we're going to play finals footy, we're going to be good enough to play finals footy.

"We're not just going to scrape in and beat the teams we're meant to beat."

Collingwood have proved particularly difficult opponents for North.

The Magpies towelled up the Kangaroos by 66 points last season, then again by 87 points in April this year.

That defeat prompted Harvey to ratchet up the pressure on his teammates, publicly name-checking Lachie Hansen and Sam Wright as among a group of mid-tier players at the club who had failed to step up.

But Harvey believes North's improved form in recent weeks - the only blip the nine-point loss to St Kilda last weekend - shows they have responded.

"I reckon (the response to his comments) has been outstanding," Harvey said.

"Those young guys - 20 to 25-year-olds - have done a fantastic job.

"We've got some young guys coming from underneath now, and it's the first time in a long time our footy club's had pressure from underneath to get a game."

Harvey rates his side's clash with Collingwood as the biggest challenge they have faced this year.

"Going into a (match against a) top-four team and knowing where we are, I think we've improved so much since we last played them.

"It's a great chance for our younger guys to step up and our older guys to lead the way."

Harvey said there was still plenty of disappointment over the Kangaroos' loss to St Kilda last weekend, with the Roos letting the Saints off the hook after looking likely twice to overrun them.

But they still attracted a huge turnout for a day of coaching clinics at their Melbourne headquarters on Wednesday, with nearly 1000 children attending.

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