North Melbourne coach Brad Scott admits the Kangaroos are so far away from the AFL’s genuine contenders that top-four talk is “fantasyland stuff”.
In real life, Scott believes his side merely deserve to make up the finals numbers in September.
And few would argue with him after North’s inconsistency continued to haunt them on Saturday night with a four-point upset loss to lowly Brisbane at the Gabba.
The Kangaroos dominated the opening term but an angry Scott was left to rue complacency as the young Lions kicked 10 of the next 11 goals to build a 33-point lead midway through the third-quarter.
He labelled their second-quarter effort and disorganisation was “completely unacceptable” and “embarrassing”.
“We completely lost structure and organisation and it was bitterly disappointing,” Scott said.
The defeat leaves North Melbourne seventh, two wins behind fourth-placed Fremantle, who look set for a finals double chance, along with Port Adelaide, Hawthorn and Sydney.
“Seventh or eighth” is where Scott believes North deserve to be – a sobering contrast to top-four ambitions.
“The top four is just fantasyland stuff,” he said.
“I don’t worry about that anyway. Top four would be great, but you don’t want to get bundled out in straight sets because you’re not up to it and at the moment we’re not playing footy that’s worthy of top four.
“Our challenge for the rest of the year is to play footy that’s worthy of being a top-four contender and at the moment we’re nowhere near that.”
Scott paid credit to the Lions – especially their “Mozzie Squad” of Dayne Zorko, Lewy Taylor and Josh Green – who led the charge with Pearce Hanley in the home side’s seven-goal second-quarter.
Irishman Hanley was a stand-out with 34 possessions in his best game of the year.
Teenager Michael Close, the key forward who has replaced retired great Jonathan Brown, also stood tall in his best game of his short career with 15 disposals, eight marks and a goal.
Watching on in a corporate box after being feted with a halftime lap of honour, Brown spent the tense final quarter on the edge of his seat before joining in the team song one last time.
“I guess all the romantics out there would be very pleased that the fairytales complete and Browny got sent off in the right way,” Leppitsch said.