North to review crucial error after Swans snatch win
Caretaker coach Brett Ratten says North Melbourne will conduct a review of the chaotic final minute of their three-point AFL defeat to Sydney, in which an interchange infringement cost them victory.
Swans tall Hayden McLean was awarded a free kick and 50-metre penalty for the Kangaroos' error, and converted from point-blank range to seal his side's 14.9 (93) to 14.6 (90) win at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.
The critical moment came when Liam Shiels and Will Phillips left the ground and were replaced by Tom Powell and Hugh Greenwood, taking North Melbourne over the maximum 75 rotations allowed.
"It's obviously a big price to pay, but that's the rules," Swans veteran Lance Franklin told Fox Footy.
Kangaroos fans at the northern end of the ground - where McLean kicked the match-winner - vented their anger by hurling rubbish onto the field.
It was a dramatic end to former St Kilda and Carlton coach Ratten's first game in charge after he took the reins from Alastair Clarkson, who has stepped away from football indefinitely.
"We'll have a look at it during the week and work out how we can do some things better, but we're not going to worry about that," said Ratten.
"We had our chances. We'll have a look at it, review it and see if we can get better.
"There's sometimes a chat (in the coaches' box) about we're getting close with the rotations but there's nothing from a senior coach's point of view that I'm looking at the interchanges.
"There's so much going on in a game, so no, we just leave that to the bench."
Sydney's triumph snapped a four-match losing streak, improving their record to 4-6, but came at a cost with ruckman Peter Ladhams added to a long injury list.
Ladhams sustained what the Swans termed a "severe ankle injury" when he landed awkwardly at a centre bounce ruck contest.
Play was held up for several minutes before Ladhams, who had just returned from an arm injury, was driven off the field moments before three-quarter time.
The Swans led by 15 points at that stage but coughed up the next five goals and looked gone before goals to Errol Gulden and Isaac Heeney dragged them back into the contest.
Sydney coach John Longmire said he had "no idea" what was happening when McLean put them back in front with the final goal of the game.
"We genuinely didn't know what the free-kick and 50 was paid for," Longmire said.
"It wasn't until afterwards, someone told me after the siren had gone."
Swans co-captain Luke Parker was huge for his side with 27 disposals, six clearances and a goal despite twice being forced off under the blood rule.
Chad Warner tallied 31 disposals, seven clearances and a goal, and Franklin finished with three majors in a welcome return to form.
McLean and Ladhams kicked two each.
Franklin pushed up the ground late in the contest in an effort to win the match for his side.
"He just took it on himself ... I thought his last quarter and last 10 minutes were pretty good," Longmire said.
"I think he got beaten in one marking contest but he went up the ground and wanted to win the game and get the ball in our front half, and he competed really hard.
"You can just tell he's a competitor and he jumped right up like he has done for many years."
North Melbourne dominated clearances 47-27, including 18-8 out of the centre, and were well ahead in the tackle count (73-61).
Midfielder Bailey Scott had 33 disposals, seven clearances and a goal in the best performance of his career, co-captain Jy Simpkin (28 disposals, eight clearances, two goals) stood up and Harry Sheezel (25, two, two) was also outstanding.
But Rising Star nominee Sheezel missed a late shot at goal that could have sealed victory for the Kangaroos.
No.4 draft pick George Wardlaw impressed with 16 touches and six clearances on debut, while Nick Larkey shook off early goal-kicking yips with two important majors after Ladhams' injury.
Callum Coleman-Jones also booted two in his return to the Kangaroos' side.