The North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos completed their first competitive hit-out of 2021 against Collingwood on Sunday.
While a two-goal defeat wasn’t the ideal way to start the Roos’ campaign, there were plenty of positive signs in the close-fought loss at Ikon Park.
Small-forward Daisy Bateman was busy in the forward half, booting two goals and pulling down an outstanding mark against three Collingwood opponents in the opening quarter.
Fellow forward Georgia Hammond also kicked two goals, providing a strong presence deep in attack, alongside the likes of Emma King and Sophie Abbatangelo.
Experienced pair Tahlia Randall and Danielle Hardiman were as reliable as ever in defence.
“I thought the whole backline really stood up well early,” Crocker told North Media.
“I thought collectively they were really good down back.”
Final address from the skipper. pic.twitter.com/dWQYjeLYBB— North Melbourne AFLW (@NorthAFLW) January 17, 2021
Vivien Saad pulled down several big contested marks, taking another step in her development in the ruck, while new recruits Alice O’Loughlin and Bella Eddey were lively across half-forward.
The Roos’ disposal and ball handling was scrappy at times though, with the Magpies making them pay on the counter.
“It was definitely the hit-out that we needed,” Crocker said.
“You do all this training and it’s all against yourselves, and you don’t really get a feel for how you’re tracking … especially for me coming into this space for the first time.
“We definitely needed the hit-out against genuine opposition; Collingwood were very good with their pressure and the heat that they brought.
“We didn’t feel like we played at our best, but we still only lost by 12 points, and gave up a few easy goals.”
There were moments of brilliance; Emma Kearney’s speaking pass to the leading Hammond during the third quarter, and Kaitlyn Ashmore’s clever check-side kick to O’Loughlin, who set up Bateman’s second goal among the highlights.
“Today was about practicing a lot of the things we’ve been working on during the pre-season and we got that opportunity against really good opposition,” Crocker said.
“We’re not overly concerned about the result, but the girls will really learn a lot from that outing.
“There’s some areas for our girls to really drill down on in the next two weeks heading into round one.”
North will welcome back valuable experience for its season-opener against Geelong, with Jess Duffin (adductor) and Britt Gibson (hamstring) both sitting out the game on Sunday.
“We got through with no injuries, which is always a positive when you play a practice game,” Crocker added.
“To be able to get a level of conditioning into the girls against genuine opposition and pressure, and still come away with everyone fit and healthy is really important.
“There’ll be some really great learnings coming out of the game. We’ll be far better equipped coming into round one having had that hit-out, and take away the areas we need to improve in our game.”
North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos 5.5.35
Goals: Bateman 2, Hammond 2, Brown 1