The AFL’s reduced interchange cap could have cost North Melbourne their round-three victory, says coach Brad Scott who has highlighted a problem with the competition’s blood rule.
In a windy thriller at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval on Sunday the Kangaroos emerged five-point winners 21.10 (136) to 20.11 (131) over Melbourne in a game that came down to the wire.
Trailing by five points with 30 seconds left on the clock, the Demons missed out when Billy Stretch booted a behind after the siren.
In the stands Scott was facing a different dilemma after key playmaker Drew Petrie was brought off under the blood rule.
“It was a really interesting situation actually. I don’t know if it’s the first time it’s happened: we’d had 90 interchanges and then we had a blood rule,” Scott told reporters after the game.
With less than a minute of play remaining Petrie was replaced by Ben Brown.
“The problem we had was that we couldn’t put Petrie back on again.
“It’s a long bow to draw but theoretically you could have a player removed from the ground under the blood rule in pretty ordinary circumstances and then you can’t replace him again because you’ve hit your cap.”
Scott insisted that Petrie should have been permitted to return after being patched up.
“It’s very unusual because it’s really late in the game and a really tight game and it’s unlikely to happen again but you’d hate to see it cost someone a game,” the coach said.
Despite the late tensions, Scott happily claimed the win, which keeps the Roos’ unbeaten season record alive.
Standout performances came from Brent Harvey with 22 disposals and his highest match haul of six goals. Todd Goldstein contributed five goals and finished with 38 hit outs.
Jack Ziebell, who left the ground briefly with a shoulder complaint, equalled an all-time AFL record on Sunday with 19 tackles.
The young Demons outfit put up an admirable fight and after trailing by 36 points at the first break, played a nine-goal second term to be seven points ahead at halftime.
For Melbourne Bernie Vince finished with 32 disposals, but will be lucky to avoid further investigation for a high hit on Jamie MacMillan.
Dean Kent was the top goal-scorer with four, while Jesse Hogan made amends for his poor form last round with three goals and 19 disposals.
Coach Paul Roos was pleased with the continuing improvement of his young charges who he said put up a strong fight against a senior side.
“You would have loved Billy to have marked that ball and go back and kick a goal, that would have been nice,” Roos said of Stretch’s miss on the siren.
“Overall it’s a pleasing day but you don’t win and that’s where the frustration comes in.”