"Unleashing the Roar! Kangaroos' AFLW Finals Ascent Hinges on Patience, Unshakable Belief, and Dominant Midfielders – Prepare for a Sensational Push!" - footballivenews
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“Unleashing the Roar! Kangaroos’ AFLW Finals Ascent Hinges on Patience, Unshakable Belief, and Dominant Midfielders – Prepare for a Sensational Push!”



Against the last three AFLW champions – Brisbane, Adelaide, and Melbourne – North Melbourne had managed only two wins in 16 attempts. Their track record against Melbourne was even more dismal, with just one victory in nine match-ups.

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However, heading into the qualifying final against the Demons, they boasted an exceptional overall record of 37 wins from 42 games against 14 different teams. Despite these statistics, the most optimistic Kangaroos fans couldn’t have confidently predicted a victory.

Their recent triumph, a 41-point dismantling of the Demons, is being hailed as their greatest victory to date. This resounding win secured them a home preliminary final and showcased the evident improvement resulting from a collective team effort that has been steadily building over time.

Demons' AFLW season in review

Joining the AFLW in the inaugural 2019 expansion, North Melbourne raised expectations with a star-studded roster including Collingwood’s Jasmine Garner and Emma King, as well as Western Bulldogs premiership players Emma Kearney and Jenna Bruton.

Despite their intimidating presence, the Roos faced challenges in their first season due to a controversial conference system. Although their record would have placed them third on a traditional ladder, the conference system’s imbalance meant they missed the finals.

Since then, North Melbourne has consistently posed a threat but struggled to match established contenders, falling short of reaching the grand final despite making the finals each season.

Remarkably, the Kangaroos have kept their senior core intact as the league expanded from 10 to 18 clubs, highlighting the team’s unwavering belief in their potential.

Inaugural captain Kearney, now a development coach in North Melbourne’s senior men’s program, brings valuable exposure to top-flight football, contributing to the team’s growth.

The standout performers driving North Melbourne’s success are midfielders Garner, Bruton, and Riddell. Garner, a three-time AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year awardee, is a versatile midfielder with exceptional game awareness and skills.

Riddell, a two-time All-Australian, adds speed and agility to the midfield, often partnering with Garner. Mia King, with a career-best average of more than nine tackles per game this season, contributes to the team’s robust midfield.

Despite their depth, the breakthrough victory against the Demons was attributed to the commitment of every player. The Kangaroos strategically swarmed Melbourne players, limiting their handball game and setting a record with the equal second-highest number of tackles (104).

The defensive duo of Sarah Wright and Jasmine Ferguson formed an impenetrable wall, holding Melbourne to a mere nine points while North Melbourne scored 50. This consistent intensity was lacking in earlier losses to Adelaide and Brisbane.

The week off before the preliminary final allowed North Melbourne to recharge, but they face a formidable opponent in Adelaide, a team experienced in preliminary final pressure. The Crows maintain a strong midfield, led by Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff.

While a tag on one of them is likely, the Kangaroos must adapt their game plan. Adelaide has ample selection options, including the versatile Jess Waterhouse, who could contribute to challenging North Melbourne’s defensive setup.

Comparisons to Melbourne’s journey last season, which culminated in their first premiership, raise the question: Can North Melbourne climb the same mountain? The upcoming weeks will reveal if the Kangaroos can secure their spot at the summit.

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