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THRILLER AT THE G by Meggs


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Since the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos joined the AFLW competition in 2019, all of our matcheshave been close and all have been played at our fortress, Casey Fields.                             

Would today be any different at the ‘G?

North supporters, while happy they were not playing at ‘bloody Casey’ again, had a reasonable gripe about ticketing prices following the late venue switch for our Round 2 clash, a curtain-raiser to the AFL Qualifying Final between Melbourne v Sydney.

Both teams selected unchanged line-ups from their strong Round 1 wins against Adelaide and Gold Coast, respectively.

This game is a contest between two of the best midfields in AFLW at the home of footy, so what’s not to like? Well, at 5pm it’s really cold sitting here in the stands.

Meggs sees Kim Rennie, North’s ruck, wearing long sleeves and thinks that’s a smart move.

Q1

Dees start off with some excellent centre clearance work and we look like we’re on.

However, North’s pressure is strong, forcing the Dees into defensive handballs and the quarter turns into a slugfest.  We seem a bit flat this week compared to the Adelaide game. C’mon girls.

Heath is not marking up Kearney this time, it’s Casey Sheriff’s turn in her new role as CHF.  Tayla Harris is doing more ruck work.  A good idea to keep her involved. 

Tahlia Randall out marks Birch, then with a beautifully weighted pass, hits up Emma King on a lead and she duly converts for North’s first goal. 

North’s two new Irish girls, O’Shea and Wall, have adapted quickly to the speed and physicality of our game.  Hopefully we get to see our girl, Blaithin Mackin, making her debut soon. 

Siren sounds. It’s quarter time.  Roos up by 5 points. 

Q2

Mick’s quarter time pep talk about how to ‘take it forward’ was immediately put into action. 

While the Roos get the clearing kick from the starting ball-up, it is quickly mopped up at halfback and the Dees work it well with a chain of handballs through the middle. 

Paxman kicks it to Hore who deftly collects and handballs to the running West who bombs it forward to a contest and follows up her work eventually handballing to Daisy who snaps a clever left foot goal.  On the board, finally.

And from the very next ball up, Riddell miskicks and Paxman intercepts.  The ball is gathered by Bannan who handballs to Daisy for her second. Two goals in two minutes.

The Dees have momentum, but North is certainly not giving up.

Hanks gets clear in the forward arc and kicks a long bomb on the run but her shot strays to the right for a point.

Melbourne’s handball game is strong. Running machines, Paxy and Riddell are everywhere for their teams. Purcell getting busy and our midfield is now on top. 

Sherriff outmarks Kearney and her shot on goal is marked by Harris right on the points line. Unfortunately, Tayla misses her banana.

Darren Croker, North coach, has placed Irish speedster, O’Shea on Alyssa Bannan. A good matchup for pace.

Chaplin and Johnson continue to show they belong out there, getting involved.

North held scoreless that quarter, a good job.  Dees up by 10 points at HT.

Q3

North come out strong and it’s a continuation of the arm wrestle and good to watch.

From a ball up Kate Hore bends and snaps but misses left, another point.

Maddie Gay limps off with her jarred knee. She’s now talking to the medicos, she’ll be right.

Next Amy Smith, a North lesser light, takes her chances and kicks her first-ever AFLW goal, a ripper. North is well and truly in this 5-point game.

West has been quieter since the first term. Birch has taken 4 intercept marks this quarter. Heath, lays a great tackle. She’s shown her relative impressive speed on several occasions tonight and made a number of excellent runs.  Ivey tries the impossible and gets caught. 

Harris clunks a great mark, but the game continues to seesaw. Harris clunks another big mark and plays on. The ball spills over the pack to Paxy who snaps on her left but misses. A sixth point.

Dees with 92 handballs and 104 kicks to Roos 49 and 104.  Roos winning the clearances 23 to 13.

It’s no warmer sitting here but it is ¾ time. Dees by 6.

Q4

All set for a nail-biting last quarter.

Tayla Harris takes a strong mark at 35 metres kicking to the Punt Road end.  Meggs’ son asks whether can she kick it? Yes, absolutely.  But she kicks it from 45 metres out, well short of the mark and Emma King gets her fingertips on it for another point.

On the next play, Rennie wins a ruck contest at half forward and Ellie Gavalas manages to break free and snap an excellent goal for North.  A one-point game.

Game on.

Lampard clears. Harris bumps O’Shea with a strong body. Welcome to AFLW Erica.

Paxy continues her outstanding game and creates an opportunity for Sherriff which ends up being our eighth point.

Down the other end, Birch misses a mark and goes to ground, Maddie Gay falls also (she’s back on now) and Emma King toe pokes a goal. North in front by 4 points.

Is our inaccuracy (2.8 to 4.0) again going to bring us undone?

What happens next is the play of the day. 

On the Members’ Wing and with the game in the balance, Casey Sherriff gathers a loose ball and instinctively turns into traffic, handballing to Purcell. She gives it to Hanks who weights a long handball to West who kicks quickly to a Daisy and Sarah Wright marking contest. West follows up her work, roving the pack and excellently directs her kick so that Bannan can run onto it. Alyssa is up for the task. With poise, she quickly controls the bouncing footy and slams it on her boot under huge pressure from Brooke Brown.  It sails through the middle, post high and the Dees are back in front. 

What a play! 

The crowd applause is noticeably louder now with over 17,000 people registered having filtered through the gates.

There are now 4½ minutes left.  Dees up by 2 points.

The balance of the game is very tense as we try andhang on. Inside the last 2 minutes, Emma King has a chance to kick a goal from the forward pocket but Gillard smothers and we clear the back fifty via Lampy. North comes again but this time Harris marks in defence.  We take some time off the clock before Zanker emerges with the footy and kicks to three unmarked North defenders. They then head up the middle where Kate Hore takes a nice, contested mark just as the siren sounds.

Whew, great job, undefeated.  Time for our song.

Coach Mick Stinear said it was an exciting night for the club with both Men’s and Women’s playing on the ‘G.  He cited North’s contested game pressure and explained that we never quite got our game going.  He praised our backs who held up well and felt the way we moved the ball forward was clunky. 

He loved Paxy’swork, especially in that last quarter, and mentioned how impressive Jas Garner’s last quarter efforts were too.  On the injury front he said Maddie Gay will be right for next week.

Our unbeaten record in Season 7 is intact, just, but another interesting challenge awaits against the improving Saints next week at Moorabbin.

Go Dees !

MELBOURNE 0.1.1 2.4.16 2.6.18 3.8.26

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.0.6 1.0.6 2.0.12 4.0.24

GOALS  

MELBOURNE D Pearce 2 Bannan

NORTH MELBOURNE Em King 2 Gavalas Smith

BEST   

MELBOURNE Paxman, Hanks, Purcell, Birch, Heath

NORTH MELBOURNE Rennie Bruton Riddell Garner Wright

INJURIES   

MELBOURNE Nil

NORTH MELBOURNE Tess Craven (left foot)

REPORTS Nil

CROWD 17,851 at the MCG

AFLWReportRd022022.png

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