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Chris Scott knows all about preliminary finals, and the Premiership coach says these can be the most nerve-wracking games of all.
If there’s one guy who knows about preliminary finals, it’s Chris Scott.
Since taking the reins at Kardinia Park in 2011, Scott has coached the Cats in Six, with his seventh being played against the Demons in Perth this Friday.
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Scott, who played in three more games, says pre-finals can sometimes be more nerve-wracking than the playoffs ahead.
“You hear some people say that they can get more anxious and nervous at a pre-finals than at a grand finale, I can understand that to a certain extent … is rare air,” Scott said in the episode of AFL 360 on Monday evening.
Just like the cliché that a new season begins with the finals series, Scott believes that the preliminary round and grand final are different from the two previous weeks of the play-offs.
“You’re sitting alone,” he says.
“Of course the grand finale is the highlight (but) I think in most years the best teams come to the preliminary weekend of the finals.
“It is very unusual for teams that are firmly anchored in the top 4 to be eliminated before this round. You just know that it will be high quality games. “
Scott said the clash with the smaller premieres on Friday would be both high quality and high stakes.
“It’s probably as much as anything else, when you arrive at this stage of the year, the feeling that if you can’t deliver, you’re going to feel,” he said.
“Probably more than how long it takes to get back into that position. Very rarely do you think, ‘Well, we had a chance, but we’ll be better off next year.’
“You think more about what it’s like 12 long months of hard work just to give yourself another chance.”
Coach Simon Goodwin, whose demons Scott has to overcome, agreed.
“(Preliminary final) are difficult games. You are working incredibly hard to get where you are, ”he said.
“As a trainer, you want to make sure that everything is in order.”
After Melbourne won its qualifying final, Goodwin had an extra week off to do just that.
The Demons took the time to take a break from football – which included a quiz night at their Perth hub – but also to review relevant current games.
The Demons studied both the Cats’ finals and their own, as well as the last time the two teams met.
In a game decided by the minor premier, Melbourne overcame a gap of 44 points to defeat Geelong after the siren in round 23.
However, Goodwin said that the only way the demons could learn so much from analyzing the victory at the last minute.
“Of course we will take some lessons from the game,” said Goodwin.
“There were phases in the game where Geelong was at the top and there were phases in the game where we also had a certain amount of dominance. All it does is reaffirm the challenge we have before us this week.
“We took some lessons from the game, but that’s really not relevant now. It is relevant who does best on Friday evening and who does best. “
Scott’s opinion was different.
“I think it’s relevant because it was so new. It was an odd game for a couple of reasons, ”he said.
“Both teams would to some extent respect each other in this game, but they also know that if they understand things on their terms, they will be able to outdo each other.”