A POWERHOUSE performance from North Melbourne has underlined its premiership credentials after it posted a dominant 42-point win against reigning premier Adelaide at North Hobart Oval on Saturday afternoon.
Rain set in during the second quarter but it didn't seem to affect North. The Roos dominated that term and while they didn't always capitalise on their dominance, they went into the main break ahead by 28.
The Kangaroos created opportunities in a variety of ways, whether it was getting over the top of the Crows' defence, taking advantage of half-chances or by dominating in the air.
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It all proved too much for Adelaide, which was without its superstar Erin Phillips (general soreness), and North Melbourne ran away with a 9.9 (63) to 3.3 (21) victory.
The Crows have been a different outfit to the one that won last year's flag, missing several key personnel, including gun defender Chelsea Randall (knee). Her absence was especially felt as North Melbourne scored 12 times from 14 inside-50 entries in the first half.
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Adelaide was competitive early, led by tough nut Ebony Marinoff and ball magnet Anne Hatchard exerting their influence through the middle of the ground.
The clear talent disparity eventually shone through though.
Emma Kearney and Jasmine Garner starred in the midfield and the latter was dangerous when she pushed forward, finishing with two goals to go alongside her 24 disposals.
Also in attack for the Roos, Kaitlyn Ashmore was an ever-present threat (four goals) and Sophie Abbatangelo made the most of her opportunities to finish with two.
How would this game have looked if Phillips played?
Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff were prolific, especially early, but they couldn't do much to stop the relentless Roos in the second term. If Erin Phillips was available would she have made a difference? Perhaps North Melbourne's dominance might have tempered slightly, but as brilliant as the dual NAB AFL Women's best and fairest is, she couldn't have done much to prevent the lopsided result.
Ashmore makes up for it
North could, and should, have made a fast start had Kaitlyn Ashmore shown clean hands and gathered the football as she ran into an open goal. She wasn't able to convert there but made amends later in the opening term with a classy snap. Then to start the second quarter, she converted a set shot from a very tight angle to put her side ahead by 13 points.
A long wait
Danielle Ponter put through the first goal of the contest, giving Adelaide the lead at the six-minute mark of the opening term. It turned out to be a miserable afternoon for the Crows – they wouldn't boot a goal again until there were just under six minutes left in the match, when Stevie Lee-Thompson soccered one through.
The ladder now
North Melbourne and Adelaide sat second and third respectively in Conference A before the two teams met, separated by a win and 87.3 per cent. That gap ballooned out, with the Roos' percentage jumping to 209.5, while the Crows' plummeted to 80.3. They need to improve to have a chance at defending their premiership.
"Adelaide are a very strong side. It doesn't matter if they've got girls out. They've got a really good list and good depth. We're just lucky to get the win and it feels really nice." – North Melbourne star Kaitlyn Ashmore
"North Melbourne was the superior team on the day. I thought we started pretty brightly but the second and third quarters in particular, they really got on top. They were able to get out and use the open side of the ground pretty effectively." – Adelaide coach Matthew Clarke
North Melbourne will look to string its fifth consecutive win together when it faces Geelong next Friday night at GMHBA Stadium. Then on Sunday afternoon, Adelaide meets Greater Western Sydney at Hisense Stadium.
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.2 5.5 7.8 9.9 (63)
ADELAIDE 1.1 1.1 1.2 3.3 (21)
North Melbourne: Ashmore 4, Abbatangelo 2, Garner 2, King
Adelaide: Thompson 2, Ponter
North Melbourne: Ashmore, Garner, Kearney, Abbatangelo, Bruton, Wright
Adelaide: Hatchard, Marinoff, Foley, Rajcic
North Melbourne: Nil
North Melbourne: Nil
Adelaide: Najwa Allen (calf) replaced in the selected side by Chelsea Biddell
Crowd: 2843 at North Hobart Oval