A STIRRING display from Jasmine Garner against her former side has bolstered North Melbourne's minor premiership hopes, with the star midfielder tormenting Collingwood in a 23-point victory on Sunday.
The ex-Pie was simply superb, providing a damaging impact in nearly every facet of the game to finish with 26 disposals, six marks and three goals and inspiring the Kangaroos to the dominant 6.2 (38) to 2.3 (15) victory at North Hobart Oval.
KANGAROOS v MAGPIES Full match coverage and stats
She was ably supported by the prolific Ash Riddell (29 disposals) in the midfield and captain Emma Kearney (24 disposals) behind the ball, while another ex-Magpie in Emma King (20 disposals, 12 hitouts) was also outstanding across the ground.
Collingwood, on the other hand, was left to rue the influence of its former chargers. Although the ever-reliable Jaimee Lambert (18 disposals, nine tackles, one goal) produced a gallant performance, the loss leaves the Pies' finals chances hanging in the balance.
Garner was the game's most important figure from the outset, winning the ball from the source and pushing forward from the contest to kick two of her three goals before half-time and helping North Melbourne gain the early ascendency.
Tahlia Randall also had two before the main break as the Kangaroos pushed their lead to as much as 25 points, only for Amelia Velardo to stem the bleeding with a goal on the buzzer as the Pies kept their flickering hopes of a comeback intact.
But the respite proved only brief, with North Melbourne maintaining its control over the contest and extending its lead further just before three-quarter time when Mia King finally took advantage of the side's territorial dominance throughout the term.
It set up a comfortable final quarter, with Garner having one final say – courtesy of her strong mark and accurate set-shot late in the game – as the Kangaroos cruised to their fifth consecutive win.
Did you hear that?
Chloe Molloy didn't mince her words pre-game, saying of the rivalry with North Melbourne: "Back in my second year at the Pies, there were a couple of trades that went on. They had their reasons for moving on, but I was pretty loyal to the club … I'm a loyal person and it just hurt a bit, so that's probably a root of it." It might have lit the spark for Jasmine Garner's best-on-ground performance, given she was one of those players who moved to the Kangaroos.
It was over when…
North Melbourne had been knocking on the door for quite a while when the energetic Mia King sidestepped a couple of would-be tacklers and slotted through the only goal of the third quarter. Although it was a low-scoring term, it had arguably been the Kangaroos' most dominant of the match. That major extended the hosts' lead to 24 points at the final change and virtually ended any hopes of a late Magpies comeback.
The ladder now
North Melbourne kept its minor premiership hopes alive on Sunday, moving level with Adelaide and Fremantle at 6-1 on the season. The winner of Brisbane and Melbourne, who do battle on Monday night, will join the logjam for top position. Collingwood, now 4-3 for the year, is clinging to its spot in the top-six. The winner of Gold Coast and the Western Bulldogs, who meet on Tuesday night, will draw level with the Pies in the race for finals football.
"We really enjoy coming here. We've got a really solid routine when we come down here and even though it's still fly-in and fly-out, we feel our routine is in a good place for games down here. It is becoming a little bit of a fortress, which is nice." – North Melbourne coach Darren Crocker
"We certainly had to back off our training this week. The recovery process post-game wasn't ideal last week. Obviously, we couldn't leave our changerooms and we jumped straight on a bus and straight on a plane and got back in the early hours of the morning. The girls certainly tried, there's no issue there, but you could just see the sting in the legs was taken out of them and they didn't have their usual zip." – Collingwood coach Steve Symonds
North Melbourne travels to Casey Fields for a blockbuster clash with Melbourne next Saturday night, while Collingwood returns to Victoria Park to face the in-form Western Bulldogs on Sunday.
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.1 4.2 5.2 6.2 (38)
COLLINGWOOD 0.1 1.2 1.2 2.3 (15)
North Melbourne: Garner 3, Randall 2, M.King
Collingwood: Velardo, Lambert
North Melbourne: Garner, Riddell, E.King, Kearney, Brown, Eddey, Ashmore
Collingwood: Lambert, Schleicher, Bonnici, Newman, Rowe
North Melbourne: Nil
Collingwood: Fowler (ankle)
Crowd: TBC at North Hobart Oval
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