North, Freo cling to AFL finals dream - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

North, Freo cling to AFL finals dream

Roger Vaughan 21/08/2011 02:11:53 PM Comments (0)

North Melbourne and Fremantle are level on the AFL ladder, but are headed in opposite directions.

The Kangaroos put themselves firmly in the finals hunt with Saturday night's 98-point demolition of the Dockers at Etihad Stadium.

The two teams share ninth spot, half a game behind Sydney, with North ahead on percentage.

It was Fremantle's fifth loss in a row and featured injuries to captain Matthew Pavlich (calf) and Hayden Ballantyne (hamstring), as well as Clayton Hinkley on report for rough conduct.

While North now have winnable games against St Kilda and Richmond, Fremantle must host Collingwood next Friday night and then return to Etihad Stadium for the round-24 game against the Western Bulldogs.

The two teams are also proving the old adage that timing is everything - North were ravaged by injury in the pre-season, but now have a cohesive team with plenty of depth that is improving with every game.

Dockers coach Mark Harvey mused post-match that he might struggle to find 22 fit players for the massive test against the Magpies.

"I've never seen so much carnage in a playing group," Harvey lamented.

"It's difficult, but I think we find out a lot about people and players during this time, who's prepared to fight."

The big worry for Fremantle is for all their injury and fitness problems, attitude has also become an issue.

They were dogged a fortnight ago against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium, but on Saturday night they were gone by early in the second term.

Harvey was clearly ramming home the need for more effort at three-quarter time.

"Blokes have indifferent seasons because of different reasons - but if it's through form, then that's an issue," he said.

North coach Brad Scott has the luxury of a much happier outlook for the rest of the season.

They might not make the finals, but all they can do is keep winning.

Also, if they can beat the finals-hardened Saints, they will show they deserve a top-eight berth.

"Last year, realistically, we weren't good enough to play in September, hence we finished ninth," Scott said.

"This year, I tend to think it would be great experience for our boys to experience a final.

"But we still have to play enough to get there.

"The great thing is, we have to beat St Kilda to get there ... if you beat a side like St Kilda, I don't think anyone can argue you're not worthy."

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