06/12/2023

Will it be North Melbourne's time to claim the premiership in season seven? (Image: North Melbourne W/Twitter)

North Melbourne will be heading into a new season off the back of a rollercoaster season six. The side had a strong start, but was left soured after a loss to Fremantle led to an exit in the elimination final.

Last season:

Fourth (seven wins, three losses)

North Melbourne had seven wins to its name, with only three losses against fellow finalists Adelaide, Melbourne and Fremantle.

It was another strong season for the Kangaroos, as they moved to what would be their third straight finals appearance. All of this was kicked off with an eight-point win against Geelong.

They continued to push through their opponents as they clocked up the wins and losses. Some of their memorable wins included a 27-point win against the GWS Giants and a 30-point win against Carlton.

The Kangaroos’ had their highest win against the West Coast Eagles, winning by 39 points. Their matchup against Fremantle conversely, was their biggest loss, going down by 38 points.

It was an inconsistent close to the home and away season before heading to their elimination final against Fremantle.

Their season wrapped up there after they fell short of the win 69-31. North Melbourne came off better with their performance on the field, though Fremantle were significantly more efficient inside 50.

Ash Riddell had a season to remember with her consistent performances each week making her a standout for North Melbourne. She was one of the best in the league, averaging 29.3 disposals per game and topped off her season with the club’s best and fairest for the first time with 158 votes.

In addition, Riddell’s fourth season saw her place third in the AFLW Best and Fairest, named in the All-Australian team and awarded the Mazda’s Next Level performer as voted by fans.

What to look forward to:

Following the news of her signing, Irish recruit Erika O’Shea has sunk her teeth in the sport and showed off her skills for the first time during a practice match against Collingwood.

If her performance in the practice match is anything to go by, North Melbourne fans should get excited to see the 19-year-old in action during season seven.

More AFLW Season Previews

AFLW Season Seven Preview: Geelong Cats

AFLW Season Seven Preview: St Kilda Saints

AFLW Season Seven Preview: West Coast Eagles

Biggest unanswered question:

The Kangaroos were left with many gaps in their depth as a result of mass departures.

The exits of Daria Bannister, Daisy Bateman, Aileen Gilroy, and Kaitlyn Ashmore will no doubt cause trouble for North Melbourne given that they all played a vital part in the side’s elimination final against Fremantle.

The loss of another member of North Melbourne’s elimination final squad Grace Campbell will likely hurt the squad’s depth too after she was ruled out for the season.

As the team rolls into season seven, the side will be tested on how much the departures will impact their AFLW campaign.

It’s a big year for…

With just one game under her belt, 2021 pick 13 Tess Craven looks set for a big year. The 19-year-old will be looking to gain more AFLW experience in the upcoming season given that she’s had limited exposure so far.

Her debut saw her pull a performance that consisted of just three disposals, three kicks and a mark.

She had a strong VFLW campaign during the recent season, including her best on ground performance in North Melbourne’s 13-point win against Port Melbourne.

Season seven will be looking like the season for Craven to potentially grab more games at the AFLW level and develop her game even further.

Fixture highlights:

A major highlight for North Melbourne will be its matchup against the Brisbane Lions in Round 7.

Last season, Brisbane defeated North Melbourne by 36 points when the two sides met at Whitten Oval. It was the biggest loss that the club endured whilst working towards its short-lived finals campaign.

For North Melbourne fans, it will be one to look out for as the game this year will be held at Arden Street.

The other major highlights will be facing off against two out of the four expansion teams new to the competition. The Kangaroos will aim to get the win against the Sydney Swans, giving them another home game at Arden Street before they visit Brisbane in Round 6.

Following their match against Brisbane, the Kangaroos will try and get on top of new kids Port Adelaide in Round 8 over at Alberton Oval.

Roos supporters will also enjoy two games in Tasmania this season, against Gold Coast in Round 1 and Geelong in Round 4.

Full fixture:

R1: vs. Gold Coast Suns, August 27 (Blundstone Arena)

R2: vs. Melbourne, September 2 (ETU Stadium)

R3: vs. Adelaide, September 10 (Wigan Oval)

R4: vs. Geelong, September 16 (University of Tasmania Stadium)

R5: vs. Western Bulldogs, September 23 (Swinburne Centre Punt Road Oval)

R6: vs. Sydney, October 2 (Arden Street Oval)

R7: vs. Brisbane, October 8 (Arden Street Oval)

R8: vs. Port Adelaide, October 15 (Alberton Oval)

R9: vs. Collingwood, October 22 (Victoria Park)

R10: vs. Richmond, TBC (Arden Street Oval)

Ins/Outs:

Ins: Taylah Gatt (Dandenong Stingrays), Charli Granville (Eastern Ranges), Cassidy Mailer (Murray Bushrangers), Grace Matser (Gippsland Power), Sophia McCarthy (Williamstown), Erika O’Shea (Cork/Gaelic football), Zoe Savarirayan (rookie), Vikki Wall (Meath/Gaelic football), Hannah Bowey (Collingwood VFLW)

Outs: Kaitlyn Ashmore (Hawthorn), Daria Bannister (Essendon), Daisy Bateman (Western Bulldogs), Jessica Duffin (Hawthorn), Aileen Gilroy (Hawthorn), Lexi Hamilton (Sydney), Tara Slender (retired), Britt Gibson (delisted), Elisha King (delisted)

Inactive: Grace Campbell (injured)

Predicted Round 1 line-up:

(Design: Will Cuckson)

Ladder range:

Fifth-eighth

Whilst the Kangaroos still have a number of experienced players in their squad, an unimpactful finals appearance last season doesn’t inspire faith.

They’ve been dealt yet another blow with the loss of Grace Campbell most recently, but they could potentially see another finals campaign once again in season seven.

North Melbourne’s areas of weakness, the lack of outside pace and an inconsistent forward line, will need to be addressed through the new recruits.

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