Not surprisingly given it’s importance, Ratten immediately faced questions about the ARC’s inability to rule on Christian Petracca’s fourth goal. “He [Dougal Howard] thought he touched the ball. The umpire was there in pretty good position. He thought he got the ball. There’s no real review here. It is what it is, we can’t change it,” he told reporters philosophically. “There was probably a lot of other things in the game that we didn’t get right, that’s just a decision in the game,” he said.
“We had our opportunities, +16 in inside 50s. And our opportunity to capitalise, in an area that we’ve been pretty good at, going inside 50. Its probably dried up a little bit in the last couple of weeks but we’ve done a reasonable job at scoring and been quite potent when we go inside 50 and today we weren’t. We missed early and we had some reasonable shots in front, they weren’t that difficult, and we gave Melbourne a look. They scored early and really, after quarter time they scored four goals but we had our chance.”
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Ratten felt that Melbourne’s defence deserved credit for the +16 inside 50 advantage not being reflected on the scoreboard. “I thought they intercept marked a lot, 18 marks of oppo boot. So they intercepted the ball really well, May took six of them, I think they shared it around a fair bit,” he told reporters.
As good as Melbourne’s defence was, he put some of the blame at his own team’s feet too. “We as a forward line group didn’t engage them enough and the other side of the equation is that we didn’t use the ball well enough,” he said. “Some of the kicking,” he lamented. “Blokes under pressure you can kind of live with that. Taking ground and trying to get the ball in there but some of the kicks when we weren’t under pressure, and they were easy kicks, we kicked to Melbourne or to [their] advantage. That wasn’t great.”
An inability to prevent them scoring early, Melbourne kicked four goals from their first nine entries, disappointed Ratten post match. “Yeah, two come from free kicks they scored two more, one from a centre bounce. Gawn got down there and marked the footy. They did score early and made the most of their inside 50s and capitalised on that. When you look at the game, +6 in centre clearances as well, we had the game on our terms. We just couldn’t convert and they got that four goal head start and they were accurate. It’s pretty disappointing,” he said.
Despite Simon Goodwin’s comments that if the Decision Review System ‘can’t be done right it shouldn’t be done at all’, Ratten refused to be drawn. “It doesn’t really worry me,” he told reporters. “It’s the AFL’s call whether they want to put the money and resources into it or just back in the goal umpire. I think we’ve got bigger things to worry about from our end. Trying to kick straight or trying to convert. Defend plays or stoppage setups. It might happen to your team once for a year, or a couple of times, its up to the AFL,” Ratten said.
He agreed that his teams fourth loss by less than a kick was evidence of a young group still learning composure in close situations. “Yeah, I think so,” he said. “Last week was a little different to this week where we had reentries and a lot of them. Tonight was slightly different. We couldn’t get a contest forward of the ball and then we did get a few late.
“We are growing as a group. We’ve won the Gold Coast game which was close, which was pleasing. We probably pulled away when the game was close in a few others as well but we need to grab a couple of these performances because they can dent your confidence. The good part is we are right in games all the time and we aren’t going away. That’s the pleasing aspect but we’ve just to got to try and finish the game and get the points and find a way. Which we haven’t done.”
While he was desperate to have an opportunity to atone for the last few results as early as possible he admitted the bye could be beneficial to his team. “I wouldn’t mind playing tomorrow but we can’t do that,” he joked. “It will be good for some players to have a break. They’ve worked extremely hard an some of the efforts today, Steele was fantastic. I thought Wilkie came into some form again. There were some players there that played, Hill got 26 possessions and gave us run. So across the board there was players in some pretty good form and found form as well, so there’s pluses but I think the group probably needs that little bit of a break now and the eight days before the Hawthorn game will be good for us.”