NORTH Melbourne has coasted away from a disappointing Greater Western Sydney by 27 points at Arden Street Oval.
The Roos are known for putting sides to the sword, and Sunday was no exception, holding the Giants scoreless in the first half to set up the 7.12 (54) to 4.3 (27) result.
With the margin at 47 points at the final break, the game opened up in the last quarter in the stifling heat, and the Giants added three goals to nil to close the gap, including one from debutant Jess Doyle.
North Melbourne dominated nearly every facet of the game in the first quarter, winning the ball at the source – against a GWS midfield missing Bec Beeson (ankle) – and finding plenty of loose players on the outside.
KANGAROOS v GIANTS Full match coverage and stats
On a few occasions in the second quarter the Giants managed to spread the Roos across the wide expanses of Arden Street, but then struggled to hit a target going into attack, especially with Emma Kearney (16 disposals, four marks) and Jess Duffin patrolling across half-back.
Giants Skipper Alicia Eva and best and fairest Alyce Parker (15 apiece) tried their absolute hearts out, and first-year Ally Dallaway showed some nice signs, but just did not have nearly as much support as needed.
Dallaway broke the Giants' drought six minutes into the third term, slotting a behind after a 50m penalty, while Chloe Dalton kicked the side's first major nine minutes later, also courtesy of a 50m penalty.
Roos Ash Riddell (23 disposals, six clearances) and Jenna Bruton (14 and six tackles) were outstanding in the midfield, Daria Bannister was a constant threat in attack, while Kaitlyn Ashmore owned the far wing.
Ashmore and daylight
Much of North Melbourne's attack was set up by the tireless running of Kaitlyn Ashmore, who constantly found herself in plenty of space just outside 50. It was also indicative of GWS' poor checking, particularly in the first half when the damage was done. Ashmore finished with 16 disposals (12 uncontested), five marks and six inside 50s.
Giants' selection dilemma
GWS recruited Jasmine Grierson – a notably nice user of the footy off half-back – over the off-season, but the former Roo has been an emergency for the past two weeks, with coach Alan McConnell saying her interrupted pre-season is to blame. Her neat kicks would have come in handy for an under-the-pump Giants defence, which struggled to clear the ball. Senior defender Lou Stephenson – also a good source of rebound – was also dropped this week, with stopper Erin Lorenzini preferred.
Clearance is key
North Melbourne comprehensively outplayed GWS around the stoppages, leading the clearances 16-8 at the final break. It was reflected in the inside-50 count (32-9) and contested possessions (78-50). But the positive for the Giants was the way they ran out the game, somewhat righting the clearances (20-15), inside 50s (38-20) and contested ball (93-78) by the final siren.
"We got pushed off the ball way too easy. We always knew we had to be good around the contest to combat North Melbourne, because they have very good inside-outside balance. Unfortunately, they showed us a merry dance at the source, so we were always going to struggle to be efficient and effective when that's the case." – GWS coach Alan McConnell
"The first three quarters were terrific. It was a really good week, it was good to come out of the Adelaide game and have a look at a few areas we needed to work on. I thought the execution was super in the first three quarters, but we went away from it in the last quarter, which was disappointing. (We're) still trying to get that four-quarter performance." – North Melbourne coach Darren Crocker
North Melbourne will face an interesting test in the form of Carlton at Ikon Park, while after three away games, GWS will play its first home match at Henson Oval, hosting the Western Bulldogs.
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.3 5.5 7.12 7.12 (54)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 0.0 0.0 1.1 4.3 (27)
North Melbourne: Bannister 2, Gavalas 2, Kearney, Garner, Bateman
Greater Western Sydney: Dalton, Privitelli, Doyle, Staunton
North Melbourne: Riddell, Kearney, Ashmore, Bannister,
Greater Western Sydney: Eva, Parker, Barr, Dalton
North Melbourne: Nil
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Crowd: 1157 at Arden Street Oval
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