The North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos have rediscovered their free-scoring best to celebrate Pride Round with a 27-point win over the GWS Giants.
The Roos are known for putting sides to the sword, and Sunday was no exception as they held the Giants scoreless in the first half to set up the 7.12 (54) to 4.3 (27) result.
With the margin at 47 points at the final break, the game opened up in the last quarter in stifling heat, and the Giants added three late goals to close the gap, including one from debutant Jess Doyle.
Having been kept to four goals in their season opener and three in last weekend's defeat by Adelaide, the Roos had five goals on the board by half-time as the Kangaroos family celebrated Pride Round in style at Arden St Oval.
North Melbourne dominated nearly every facet of the game in the opening half, winning the ball at the source against a GWS midfield missing Bec Beeson (ankle), and finding plenty of loose players on the outside.
On a few occasions in the second quarter the Giants managed to spread the Roos across the wide expanses of Arden Street, but then struggled to hit a target going into attack, especially with Emma Kearney (16 disposals, four marks) and Jess Duffin patrolling across half-back.
Giants Skipper Alicia Eva and best and fairest Alyce Parker (15 apiece) tried their hearts out, and first-year Ally Dallaway showed some nice signs, but struggled to find the support they needed.
Dallaway broke the Giants' drought six minutes into the third term, slotting a behind after a 50m penalty, while Chloe Dalton kicked their first major nine minutes later, also courtesy of a 50m penalty.
Roos Ash Riddell (23 disposals, six clearances) and Jenna Bruton (14 and six tackles) were outstanding in the midfield, Daria Bannister was a constant threat in attack, while Kaitlyn Ashmore owned the far wing.
"The first three quarters were terrific," coach Darren Crocker said after the match.
"It was a really good week, it was good to come out of the Adelaide game and have a look at a few areas we needed to work on. I thought the execution was super in the first three quarters, but we went away from it in the last quarter, which was disappointing. (We're) still trying to get that four-quarter performance."
The first blow
Two days after revealing she was still feeling the effects of her bout with Covid-19, captain Emma Kearney dug deep to set the Roos on their way. Starting the game at half-back, Kearney lit the after-burners through the centre of Arden St and continued her run inside 50. Mia King found Kearney with the handball and the skipper split the sticks from 35m.
Did you see that?
If Tahlia Randall's crashing pack mark doesn't make the end-of-season showreel, fans are set to witness some incredible AFLW hangers. Randall's set shot from 20m won't live as long in the memory, but her bullocking grab underscored the Kangaroos' total dominance in Sunday's first three quarters.
Ashmore and daylight
Much of North Melbourne's attack was set up by the tireless running of Kaitlyn Ashmore, who constantly found herself in plenty of space just outside 50. It was also indicative of GWS' poor checking, particularly in the first half when the damage was done. Ashmore finished with 16 disposals (12 uncontested), five marks and six inside 50s.
Ash Riddell ranked 14th when AFLW reporter Sarah Black selected her top 30 AFLW players ahead of this season. On the evidence of her first three rounds, Riddell is on her way to a higher ranking. Having equalled the AFLW disposals record with 35 in round one, she earned 20 of her 23 disposals against the Giants in the pivotal first half, adding six clearances to ensure the Kangaroos converted early momentum into a match-winning half-time lead. The season is young, but right now Riddell is running as hot as the Arden St thermometer during Sunday's scorcher.
The Roos head across town to face Carlton at Ikon Park on Sunday, January 30. The Blues will be returning from an unexpected trip to Queensland to play the Lions on Tuesday night, after their fixtured Round 3 match against the Western Bulldogs had to be rescheduled. They opened their 2022 AFLW campaign with a loss against Collingwood, before bouncing back to defeat Geelong by 14 points in round 2.
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.3 5.5 7.12 7.12 (54)
GWS GIANTS 0.0 0.0 1.1 4.3 (27)
North Melbourne: Bannister 2, Gavalas 2, Bateman, Garner, Kearney
GWS Giants: Dalton, Doyle, Privitelli, Staunton
North Melbourne: Riddell, Kearney, Ashmore, Bannister,
Greater Western Sydney: Eva, Parker, Barr, Dalton
North Melbourne: Nil
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Crowd: 1157 at Arden St Oval
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