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Rise Above Prelim Pain: Leon Cameron

By Adam Curley - AFL Media  September 24, 2017 12:13 AM

PF v Tigers: Leon Cameron Post Match Watch GIANTS coach Leon Cameron's press conference after the preliminary final against Richmond.
Like every team we'll lick our wounds and acknowledge that the opposition were better than us, but we need to improve to get back to this position next year.

The GIANTS’ second-straight preliminary final exit is no cause for panic, with coach Leon Cameron confident his club is still on track for premiership success.

The GIANTS more than matched Richmond in the first half at the MCG but failed to make the Tigers pay on the scoreboard, and six goals to one in the third term from the home side blew the game apart.

The 36-point loss leaves the GIANTS a step short of the Grand Final again after they stumbled at the same stage against the Western Bulldogs 12 months ago, but rather than see it as a negative for his club, Cameron preferred to look at the positives after the match.

"I said to our boys I'd prefer to playing in prelims every year because it means you've finished in the top four, which we have two years in a row, and you're playing in the second-last week in September," he said.

"I'll take that any day because if you keep on rocking up, then you'll get through.

"The challenge is for us to go one step better and we didn't, but we learnt a lot this year.

"Like every team we'll lick our wounds and acknowledge that the opposition were better than us, but we need to improve to get back to this position next year.

"I'm confident that we've got a club that’s set up to continually play finals footy, but we've got to earn that right."

A goal to co-captain Callan Ward midway through the third term reduced the Tigers' lead to six points, but some costly turnovers helped Richmond boot the next four to give them a decisive 31-point advantage with a quarter to play, and with the momentum in their favour the locals were never going to be caught.

"You've got to make your moments count and when we made some poor decisions, they made their moments count," Cameron said.

"They gained momentum from there and had a 10-minute block where they hit the scoreboard and clearly put us under the pump.

"To their credit they rebounded and cashed in, they're a good team and they've been a good team all year."

Veteran Steve Johnson had a quiet day in his final game and couldn't repeat his heroics of last week's semi-final win over West Coast.

The forward made a couple of crucial errors in that third term but Cameron refused to criticise the 2007 Norm Smith Medal winner, and praised his impact on the GIANTS over the past two seasons.

"People are always going to judge him, but we didn't get beaten because Steve Johnson's knee might have been at 90 per cent," he said.

"He's a triple-premiership player who wanted to come to our club to see if he could help us take the next step.

"Clearly he's been hampered by his body over the last year but we like his spirit and that’s rubbed off on our players.

"He's been great for our footy club and he's taught us how to compete when things aren't going well for you."