NORTH Melbourne has continued its impressive start to 2022 by closing out a tired Carlton outfit on a hot and humid Sunday afternoon at Ikon Park.
The Blues started full of energy and vigour at home but couldn't maintain the rage in the second half, with the Kangaroos controlling the contest after half-time to move to 3-1 on the back of the 30-point win, 7.9 (51) to 3.3 (21).
BLUES v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats
With the latest Omicron wave wreaking havoc in the AFLW, Daniel Harford's side was forced to front up for a second time in five days.
Carlton touched down at Tullamarine Airport shortly after 4am on Wednesday after losing to Brisbane at Metricon Stadium on Tuesday night.
North Melbourne had two extra days of recovery up its sleeve and used the fresher legs to its advantage in the second half, kicking six unanswered goals after half-time while holding Carlton to a single point for most of the second half, before a late consolation goal for the Blues.
Darren Crocker's side has now leapt over Collingwood into fourth spot on the ladder, drawing level with third-placed Melbourne, a game adrift of the undefeated Adelaide and Fremantle.
Ball-magnet Ash Riddell got North Melbourne going early by collecting 12 touches in the first quarter to continue her blistering start to the 2022 season, before finishing with 28 disposals.
The 2020 All-Australian has emerged as one of the most influential players in the competition this season and is now averaging 28.3 disposals after the opening month of 2022.
Goalkicking has proven difficult in AFLW, but not for Daria Bannister on Sunday. The 22-year-old slotted two of the best set-shot goals you will see this season.
First, Bannister nailed one from deep in the left pocket in the Legends Stand in the second quarter, before repeating the trick late in the third quarter at the construction end of the ground. The two moments of class provided North Melbourne with some breathing room on both occasions.
The Blues faced some unprecedented challenges this week, but they can expect plenty of reflection inside Ikon Park in the coming days after they slipped to 1-3.
North Melbourne keeps unblemished record alive
The Kangaroos maintained their faultless record against neighbouring rivals Carlton on Sunday, making it four wins from four contests between the two sides since North Melbourne joined the competition in 2019.
Vescio magic the highlight for Blues
A scrappy opening quarter burst to life in the second term, courtesy of two moments of magic from Darcy Vescio in a short burst. The first dribbled through at the Royal Parade end of the ground. The second didn't end up in a major, but it electrified the crowd. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got Carlton.
Turning up the heat
It has been a stinking hot January, especially if you're playing footy right now. The temperature hovered just under 30 degrees at Ikon Park on Sunday afternoon, making the task even more difficult than it already was for Carlton, given the week they experienced, travelling up to Queensland and returning in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
"I probably felt over the course of the game and the weight of inside-50s and the weight of pressure we were putting on them that the dam wall will break at some point. I just feel like the demographic is coming together pretty well, just from a balance perspective and girls wanting to step up." - North Melbourne coach Darren Crocker
"We missed lots of targets and gave the ball back - they had 44 intercepts, the Kangas, that's a ridiculous number. It's not the wins and losses ratio, it's the way we're playing, that's our issue at the moment." - Carlton coach Daniel Harford
Both North Melbourne and Carlton will get a full seven days to recover between now and their round five clashes. And they will need it, given they are both facing undefeated opposition. The Roos will travel down to Tasmania to host Fremantle in Hobart, while the Blues will host Adelaide at Ikon Park.
CARLTON 1.1 2.2 2.3 3.3 (21)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 3.4 4.6 7.9 (51)
Carlton: Walker, Vescio, Gee
North Melbourne: Bannister 2, O’Loughlin 2, Randall, Ashmore, Bateman
Carlton: Harrington, Prespakis, Trudgeon, Gee
North Melbourne: Riddell, M. King, Bruton, Kearney, E. King, Bannister
North Melbourne: Nil
North Melbourne: Nil
Crowd: 2329 at Ikon Park
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