A prime minister pleaded: “Please, please, we cannot have a draw,” she prophetically pined before the AFL grand final Saturday morning. “Our nation just couldn’t bear it. Australians deserve a result today.”

They didn’t get it. A nation waits — again.

Collingwood squandered a healthy lead at half time.

Julia Gillard can relate. A government with a mandate, the bookies’ bet, was caught holding the ball.

Neither side really deserve it — but they both get a second chance.

Ahead of parliament’s resumption this week, Labor’s tactics are risk-averse. Still faced with a hostile Senate, it’s reheating old legislation, and delaying any major reform.

It’s time for Julia to put her head over the ball. She has to go in hard; kick straight when it matters; break open the game. Or as Julie Bishop laboured at the same prophetic breakfast: “They are blood sports played at the highest level. Unrelenting, competitive, take no prisoners.”

The winner next Saturday will fight to the finish. It will be bold and brilliant. It will play like it’s ahead, not behind. Timidity is death. As Pies coach Mick Malthouse said to his team on Saturday night: “If you treat this as a loss, it will be. If we treat this as an opportunity, it will be.”

The political juxtaposition, as Bruce McAvaney would say, is delicious.