GOING into the last three rounds of the qualifying season, we knew that it would be challenging and that it would give us an indication of how we were going leading into the finals.
We had already qualified for finals, it was a matter of how high up the ladder we could push with games against clubs who, at that stage, were all sitting inside the top four – GWS, Hawthorn and Adelaide.
It represented the toughest period of the season for us, playing two of those teams on the road.
Much had been made externally of our form away from Perth, but our focus was on playing our way regardless of where we were fixtured.
After coming through that period with three consecutive wins, we now enter the toughest phase of the season.
Playing finals is motivation for all the hard work we put into pre-season and throughout the year.
You want to be playing in the big games.
We’re not just satisfied with playing in those games, we aim to have an impact and we go into September with real momentum.
We won 16 games, the same as we did last year when we were second on the ladder, but this year that puts us sixth.
It’s a challenge to win a premiership from outside the top four, particularly from Perth, because finishing high gives you two home finals.
It’s tough but not impossible.
It just means we’ll have travel at least one more time.
Having beaten GWS and Adelaide on the road, we can tackle any game interstate with some confidence.
We can beat any team on any given day and we’re really excited about what the next month can hold.
For the time being, though, we’re on hold with the AFL slotting in a bye between the end of the season and the first week of finals.
The week is good to freshen up and get ready for what lies ahead.
Obviously, we continue to train, but we have a week off from actually playing so those who need it can nurse the sore spots and be ready for the attack on the finals series, starting with a Thursday night game at home against the Bulldogs.