The North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos have come out with a show of force in the opening round demolishing the Gold Coast Suns by 26 points, proving they are capable of being finals contenders this season.
The Suns were up and about after the first bounce, conjuring the first minor score of the game. From there onwards they were unable to keep the pressure on, succumbing to the Kangaroos who kept them scoreless until the final quarter.
Despite vying for the lowest score in AFLW history, the Suns redeemed themselves late in the game with two goals in the last minutes of the final term.
Two of AFLW’s most influential players celebrated their 50 game milestones at Blundstone Arena for the Kangaroos, Emma Kearney and Jasmine Garner.
A four-time All-Australian, Garner had a massive outing against the Suns with a whopping 27 disposals, seven clearances, six inside-50 entries and a goal.
After a dominant display against the Suns, Garner can also add an AFLW record of over 200 career marks to her extensive resume.
Superstar skipper Kearney relished the win on her milestone moment, impressing with a domineering 18 disposals, 13 kicks and five marks.
Kearney moved into the role last season and has excelled being the only player to make the All-Australian list each year.
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Former Brisbane Lion, Tahlia Randall had a career-best day kicking three goals in the perfect Tasmanian conditions.
Randall highlighted her experience and versatility playing in the forward line despite being thrown in the ruck and down back at her previous club.
The Roos spent an immense amount of the game within their forward fifty but were not able to convert it efficiently on the scoreboard, with the Suns putting on the defensive pressure towards the end of the game.
Post-game North Melbourne coach Darren Crocker said the Kangaroos played the style of game they like to play for the most part despite letting two goals through late in the match.
“I thought our forward-half domination was definitely there,” Crocker said.
“Did we get enough reward for our effort and our ability to lock the ball in our front-half? Maybe not. But I thought for three quarters we set the game up really well.”
North Melbourne were clinical in their performance with debutants Taylah Gatt, Sophia McCarthy, Charli Granville and Irish duo Vikki Wall and Erika O’Shea impressing on their first outing.
A Gaelic star, Wall stunned her teammates with nine disposals and merely missing two shots at goal, despite only being in the country for less than a month.
In her maiden game, McCarthy kicked her first goal in the AFLW in the third quarter to make it the sixth major score for the Kangaroos. It was gifted her special moment by the umpire for a mark which was claimed by the Suns defender but paid to McCarthy.
The Suns were not able to shake the defensive pressure of Sarah Wright and Jasmine Ferguson allowing the Kangaroos defence the freedom to run and carry the ball from deep in their defensive 50.
Suns young gun, Charlie Rowbottom led the way with 15 disposals but even the Suns best were not able to convert the consistent mounting performance from their opposition.
Kalinda Howarth scored the first major with Jamie Stanton shortly following for the Suns in the fourth quarter, narrowly avoiding the Saints record for lowest score in an AFLW match.
Gold Coast coach Cameron Joyce left the ground disappointed as he rued the missed opportunities and poor start by his team.
“We just didn’t get the ball forward enough in the first two-and-a-bit quarters, and then we finished reasonably strong but you can’t do that and expect to win games of footy against quality sides like North Melbourne,” Joyce said.
The Kangaroos will look to back this win up with another against the Melbourne Demons on Friday night, while the Gold Coast Suns will look to get a win against an in-form West Coast Eagles outfit.
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