NORTH MELBOURNE has notched its biggest ever AFLW win after systematically dispensing of Sydney as the sun set on round six.
Registering their fourth straight win at Punt Rd, their home away from home, the Kangaroos kicked 9.13 (67) to 0.1 (1), keeping the Swans scoreless after quarter time.
ROOS V SWANS Full match coverage and stats
Unsurprisingly, North Melbourne's midfield took control at the contest, dominating the clearances 37 to 15 and then spreading expertly once the ball was won, often leaving their Sydney opponents trailing behind them. The experience of the Kangaroos midfield group was evident as they repeatedly pushed forward and found space inside 50 while the Swans were caught napping.
North was able to hit up targets around the ground and because of that, they had breathing space when they did have the ball. Sydney, by comparison, were consistently under the pump as they tried to move the ball quickly under pressure, which played into the hands of the Kangaroos' interceptors. A theme of Sydney's season to date has been poor decision-making under pressure, and the Roos feasted on that on Sunday.
Sydney started to find a modicum of control in the third quarter, winning some uncontested marks and slowing the game down, but the Kangaroos' work rate to support their defence was simply outstanding, with players repeatedly seen sprinting to impact the contest and, more often than not, turn the ball over.
Lexi Hamilton and Gen Lawson Tavan were Swans coach Scott Gowans' choices in the ruck after dropping Alloy Morphett during the week, but the experienced Kangaroos duo of Emma King and Kim Rennie cleverly moved into space while the Swans were caught ball watching. King slotted two goals off the back of that decision-making.
Jasmine Garner was a powerhouse out of the middle with 18 disposals, ten tackles and two goals, as was Ashleigh Riddell with 25 disposals and six clearances. Brooke Brown also continued her career-best season, setting up expertly behind the play and driving the ball forward.
The only area where North coach Darren Crocker would be shaking his head is in his side's accuracy in front of goal, kicking just nine goals from 22 scoring shots.
On debut, Ruby Sargent-Wilson and Kiara Beesley worked tirelessly for Sydney up and down the ground, with Sargent-Wilson particularly impressive on the wing, intercepting the ball and sending it into attack. Down back, Brenna Tarrant was reliable under the North Melbourne onslaught, taking five marks before being swung into attack for the final quarter.
The Swans continue to sit winless at the bottom of the ladder, while North Melbourne is now knocking on the door of the top four.
Match-ups for now and the future
Fans were treated to two key match-ups through the midfield that pitted established stars against emerging talent. Sofia Hurley was tasked with playing on Jenna Bruton through the middle and wore her closely, finishing the game with five tackles and 14 disposals while Bruton had 17 disposals and four tackles of her own. Meanwhile, top draft pick Montana Ham spent a lot of the game running with Jasmine Garner which, despite being comfortably won by the latter, resulted in some impressive breakaway footy from Ham. They are players to be enjoyed today and long into the future.
A family affair
Zoe Savarirayan transitioned from soccer to footy at high school and caught the eye of North Melbourne's recruiters after just a handful of games. The whole crowd at Punt Road knew when she hit the field for the first time as a contingent of the teenager's family and friends roared and continued to cheer every time she touched the ball. Savarirayan's athleticism and intelligence were clear as she looked like she could do something special at any moment and as her raw talent develops, she will become a damaging asset for the Roos.
North Melbourne will be sweating on the condition of its home ground of Arden Street, as they are set to host ladder-leaders Brisbane there for the Saturday twilight fixture. Sydney will host the smarting Gold Coast earlier that afternoon at Henson Park.
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.2 4.8 6.11 9.13 (67)
SYDNEY 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 (1)
North Melbourne: Randall (3), Garner (2), E. King (2), Eddey, O'Loughlin
North Melbourne: Garner, Riddell, E.King, Brown
Sydney: Hurley, Ham, Sargent-Wilson, Tarrant
North Melbourne: Nil