North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos coach Darren Crocker pinpoints Round 8's punishing defeat by Melbourne as the pivotal moment in the club's resurgence this AFLW season.

To reach the club's first ever AFLW Grand Final, North Melbourne had to overcome the hurdle of beating the competition's three heavyweights - Adelaide, Melbourne and Sunday's opponent Brisbane - something the side had struggled to do since joining the competition in 2019. 

Being able to flick that switch, however, has been just as much about mindset as on-field skill. 

"I think the moment came after our really disappointing loss to Melbourne (at Ikon Park) where it just didn't look like a North Melbourne game for us. We reviewed that week pretty intensively and spoke about coming back to our identity and the type of team that we want to be seen as," Kangaroos coach Darren Crocker told media on Saturday morning.


Crocker pointed to Round 9's three-point loss to Adelaide as evidence of the improvement, and belief heading into the finals series. 

"We had a really strong performance against Adelaide, even though we didn't get the result, and after that game I thought the players were pretty devastated that we had done so much right and still didn't come away with the win. But (it) looked far more like the way we want to play to our identity," Crocker said. 

"I think they took a lot of belief out of that. And that belief, you can call it belief, or you can call it evidence, I think from there we've given ourselves enough evidence in that game. From then, with what we've done since, to be able to go into a Grand Final with the evidence and the belief that we're more than capable." 


For North Melbourne captain Emma Kearney, while having won a premiership with the Western Bulldogs back in 2018, this is a brand new experience. 

"At the end of the day, it's a completely different side that we're playing for, against a completely different opposition, albeit the same team, but they're completely different sides," Kearney said. 

"I think for us, it's just about making sure the players are calm, they're really clear on the role that they need to play. Sometimes nerves can get the better of them, but we just keep coming back to 'what is our role for the day'." 


Kearney, who was seen wearing a mask before and after last week's preliminary final, has declared herself well and ready to play in Sunday's Grand Final. 

"Feeling good, when you're playing in a Grand Final everything's all good," Kearney said. 


Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich declared spearhead Dakota Davidson "good to go" for Sunday's match. 

After injuring her knee in last week's narrow preliminary final win over Geelong, there has been an injury cloud looming over Davidson, who is the Lions' leading goalkicker this year. 

"She's pretty good actually," Starcevich said.  

"Last Saturday night it was looking a little bit like it was going to be a bad one, but she had her scan pretty soon on the Sunday and got going and trained pretty strongly on whatever night we train, Thursday night, the whole 'sesh' so, she's good to go." 


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