North Melbourne coach Darren Crocker praised his side’s first four-quarter performance of the season after ending the Western Bulldogs’ unbeaten start to the AFLW season with a 15-point win at Punt Road Oval.
The gates were locked before quarter-time on the public holiday Friday and the Kangaroos were locked in, triumphing 6.7 (43) to 4.4 (28).
Jasmine Garner (26 disposals) was brilliant and was ably assisted by Jenna Bruton as the Kangaroos had the edge on the Dogs’ vaunted on-ball brigade.
Katie Lynch and Isabella Grant’s intercept marking in defence was a feature for the Bulldogs, while 17-year-old Rylie Wilcox’s two goals kept her side in the match, which was in the balance for the majority of the afternoon.
“We thought it was far closer to the four-quarter performance that we’ve been searching for,” Crocker said.
“We’ve just had moments in games that have let us down in the first four rounds.
“For large parts of that game we were really challenged – they (Bulldogs) weren’t 4-0 for no reason.
“We had the game looking the way we’d like it to.”
The Kangaroos combined strength at the contest with ferocious tackling to dictate proceedings early, firing the first strike through half-forward Isabella Eddy, who found goal smartly in the opening 90 seconds
The Dogs weathered the early storm and steadied, taking the lead at quarter-time when Rocky Cranston walked into an open goal.
Hard-running Irishwoman Vikki Wall scored a goal to start the second term, which for the most part was played on North’s terms.
The Kangaroos owned the corridor and dominated territory but were unable to add to Wall’s major, thanks chiefly to some sterling Bulldogs defence, piloted by Lynch and Grant.
Captain Ellie Blackburn had a big third term and the Bulldogs peppered the goals early but let North off the hook with three successive misses.
The Roos made the Dogs pay and led by six points at three-quarter-time on Emma King’s powerful mark and goal.
Wilcox’s second goal gave the Bulldogs a sniff in the fourth but North ran the match out stronger.
Garner went from strength to strength and skipper Emma Kearney led superbly with the finish line in sight.
“I didn’t expect to go through the season undefeated,” said Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke, who was upbeat and positive despite the result.
“Every win you have, you’re closer to your first loss.
“(We had) a lot of really good learnings out of today. Losing will set us up really well for the last five (games).”