You were 30 points down but you guys got yourself well and truly back into the game, but you couldn’t sustain it in the last quarter. What do you think the key factors were there?

We had a swing, but I think Geelong just wanted it more in the last quarter. I think effort was there, but there were certain contests that were really critical and we couldn’t get field position. I thought the start was disappointing. We did so well to come back from that deficit away from home against a top of the ladder side, so we were really proud of our efforts. But I just thought in the last quarter, when the game was right there to be won, perhaps we used too much energy (coming back), perhaps Geelong were just too good and they’ve been too consistent all year.

What do you put that first quarter down to?

It’s hard to tell. We couldn’t win the ball and they took their opportunities. Field position was important tonight and we didn’t defend too well in the first quarter. I think the uncontested mark, they must have had around 30. We corrected in the second (quarter) and got a bit more control with the ball. We were up for the fight. I’m not surprised about our group doing that, but unfortunately we couldn’t sustain it.

Do you feel, Adam, that Geelong got (the better) of the ground balls and also the contested possession situation?

Yeah, they did. I’ve said this a couple of times before, it’s not all about that. But you can tell when you’re beaten in that area the way we look at it and we were tonight. When it really mattered we couldn’t sustain our effort.

Does the shock of the Willie Rioli thing, did that affect the group?

I don’t know. It’s hard to tell. They’re human. We really care about Willie. We still do. We addressed it on Wednesday night. They looked pretty tight, they looked pretty galvanised. But we’re hurting, we’re hurting for him.

It looks like it took them a while to summon some spark and energy in that first quarter. Was that a case of Geelong controlling the game?

I think you’ve got to give Geelong a fair bit of credit. We thought they were going to do a couple of things and they did, but we just couldn’t stop it. Like I said, they controlled the ball a little bit, didn’t kick it down the line as much as they normally do and a couple of strategic things here and there, but in the end it’s just winning the ball and getting it in your front half; that was not consistent enough for us.

How did you galvanise them after the Willie thing?

We’ve been through a lot, our group. Our campaign has been six years. They are a mature group and we’ve got the utmost care and respect for Willie. We got together – we travel every second week, we’re two days out every second week – so they’re a very tight group. We don’t need to catch up outside the club because we spend so much time together. I think the leaders stood up in that sense like they always have.

Now that it’s done, how do you view your premiership defence?

Unsuccessful. We had some inconsistencies throughout the year. I thought we probably deserved to finish fifth. It was a rough start to the season. We found our way. I think we won seven or eight in a row or eight out of nine, and then we’ve lost the last three out of four games. We’ve fallen away in the last month. We’ve been up for a long period of time, but that’s not really an excuse. Teams have managed to handle that before. Some critical games cost us top four opportunities and for a team interstate, if you don’t finish top two you’re not getting a home final. We understand how important it is, but we still had a lot of confidence. I felt really good about this group and if anybody could do it from fifth I thought we could and our players truly believed that. Unfortunately it didn’t work out.

Adam I can tell how much you’re hurting over the Rioli situation. When you flew over this week, did you expect that he would probably play or the way it turned out you knew the AFL were getting involved?

We knew nothing until Wednesday night. We found out when they arrived at the hotel. We were really worried about his mental health and making sure that he’s got family support around him. He’s a gentle soul, a lovely man, a partner with a child and another one on the way. We just throw our arms around him at the moment.

Will you go and see him now that you don’t have games to worry about?

I haven’t thought that far, but maybe.

Have you spoken to him, Adam, in the last couple of days? And how’s his mental state fluctuated in that time as far as you can tell?

You can only imagine. It’s probably not the time to talk about this. It’s under investigation. We’ll work through it in the coming weeks. It’s just been a bit of a shock. It’s happened so quick and now we’ve got to deal with it as a club and Willie’s got to deal with it himself.

Adam just going back to the match itself, what did you make of Mark Blicavs playing in the wing tonight in the role he played with Geelong?

We didn’t plan for that. There were a few match-ups here and there that you can go to. I know that there was a lot of talk last week about (Rhys) Stanley and all that, but that’s part of it but it’s not the reason you win or lose. It’s back to your system, your effort and your composure. Players move around; we had two or three match-ups ourselves that might have worked for us, but it didn’t change the scoreboard. You don’t really rely on that. It’s part of it, but I think in the end they just did what they have been doing every week and we couldn’t handle it.

What did you think at three quarter time when you had won two quarters of footy? You looked like you had momentum.

I thought it was going to be an arm wrestle and I thought whoever was the most predictable around the ball, played their role and stayed on task was going to come out on top. That’s what I told the players. And we came second in that.

Is it hard to maintain some of the energy when you’re mounting a premiership defence? When you look back on why you finished you finished and not where you finished last year, where do you put it?

It’s a really tough competition. To have sustained success doesn’t necessarily mean premierships each year. Giving ourselves the best opportunity to have a crack, we probably missed that – we could have finished higher. But we didn’t and we deserved to finish where we did. I think we missed top four by percentage. Like I said, I still had confidence in the group and I still do going forward.