2023 AFLW Grand Final Team Preview – North Melbourne
NORTH Melbourne is set to make history on Sunday afternoon when it runs out in the 2023 AFLW Grand Final, no matter what the final result is. After some big scalps already this finals series, the Kangaroos have made it into their first Grand Final. But after going so close so many times in a row, can they complete the redemption arc and go all the way in 2023?
One of the premier midfielders of the competition, Garner’s importance to North Melbourne and its midfield cannot be understated. Working with a few others in the midfield, Garner is one of those players the Kangaroos cannot afford to have tagged out of the game.
Garner’s partner in crime in the midfield, the two of them work in tandem and when both on song can be hard to stop. While Garner is the strong beast, Riddell is the smaller, quicker and more sneaky of the two.
Not one of the biggest names at the Roos, but her value is just as important. O’Shea is one of the biggest sources of run out of defence for the Kangaroos, with her speed a particular asset in helping to connect up with the midfield.
It may only be her first year at the club, but Shierlaw has slotted into the forward line seamlessly. Proving that North really did not have too many tall forwards, her aerial marking and leading ability is top notch, while also providing plenty of shots on goal and goal assists too.
Another member of the North Melbourne tall forward brigade, when she is up and firing Randall is also super dangerous. She has had her ups and downs this season, but her form has swung strong at the right time of the year.
KEY AREAS OF FOCUS
- The kicking game
One weapon the Kangaroos have at their disposal is their kicking game. More renowned for a run and kick game or a chip and kick game as opposed to handballing their way out of trouble, the ledger is very lopsided when it comes to kicks versus handballs with the Kangaroos. It is also one of the areas the Kangaroos are particularly dominant over the Lions in.
- Marks Inside 50
Another area the Kangaroos are particularly strong in is their marking inside 50. With plenty of tall targets up there it is no surprise, but one thing they have shown this season is when those targets are unable to land those marks, things do not go well for the Kangaroos.
However, despite these positives one area of concern that the Kangaroos will need to be mindful of is tackles. When compared to Brisbane they are -212 in tackles overall and -112 in tackles inside 50, which is quite a disparity.
- Will their Grand Final inexperience hurt them?
Although North Melbourne have been around the top of the league for a long time, this is the first time they have made the Grand Final. They are also playing very seasoned team when it comes to Grand Finals, with Brisbane about to play in their fifth Grand Final. Will that inexperience be a detriment to the Kangaroos?
- How do they counter a bad head to head record with the Lions?
If coming up against a team in their fifth Grand Final when you are in your first is not daunting enough, North Melbourne also have a poor head to head record against the Lions, having never beaten them previously. No bigger occasion to beat the Lions for the first time.
- What can they do if Garner gets tagged?
When these two sides met earlier this season, the momentum of the entire match changed when Jasmine Garner got tagged out of the game by Bre Koenen. Melbourne did the exact same thing to North Melbourne a month later, so it will not be surprising if a similar strategy is deployed on Sunday. If so, how do North Melbourne counter that?