POSITIONAL changes across the ground saw a new-look North Melbourne take to the field this year.

The Kangaroos reached their third finals series in as many seasons, but still haven't worked out how to progress past a qualifying final.

Over the next few weeks, womens.afl will look at each of the seasons of the 14 AFLW teams in reverse ladder order.

Coach: Darren Crocker

Leadership group: Emma Kearney (captain), Emma King (vice captain), Nicole Bresnehan, Jasmine Garner, Danielle Hardiman, Ash Riddell

2022 home and away finishing position: 4th, seven wins and three losses, 139 per cent. Lost qualifying final to Fremantle.

Best team performance: Coming up against the - at the time - undefeated Fremantle in round five, the Kangaroos were forced to grind the game out in a way they haven't typically liked to play in the past. They handed the Dockers their first loss of the season by 10 points, despite losing the uncontested possession count. North Melbourne has won just four games when it has lost the uncontested possession count, and this was one of them.


Best individual performance: It's impossible to look past Ash Riddell's record-breaking 42 disposals against West Coast in round 10. Not only did Riddell smash the AFLW disposal record, she used the ball at 76.2 per cent efficiency, won nine clearances, registered 480 metres gained and was involved in seven scores.


NAB AFLW Rising Star nominations: Mia King, Isabella Eddey

Debutants: Tess Craven, Jasmine Ferguson, Amy Smith (AFLW debut), Alexia Hamilton, Kim Rennie (club debut)

Retirees: Yet to be announced

Delistings: Yet to be announced

Most improved: As part of some positional changes at the club this year, Mia King's permanent move to the midfield was a huge positive not just this season, but looking ahead to the future. Averaging a career-high 14.5 disposals, 2.4 inside 50s and 6.2 tackles, King helped lead the Roos' midfield alongside Riddell.

North Melbourne's Mia King in action against Carlton in R4, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Star recruit: Unassuming but super consistent in her first season, Jasmine Ferguson was a rock in defence for the Kangaroos. Ferguson, despite standing 172cm tall, added some strength in the air and some grunt on the ground to a backline that was without Tahlia Randall after her move into attack. Ferguson played 10 of a possible 11 games, only missing due to health and safety protocols.

Unsung hero: Brooke Brown solidified herself in the Kangaroos' defence this year after playing just once in 2021. Brown was proactive in the backline, averaging 13.4 disposals, 3.6 marks and five intercepts, and had begun to develop an exciting long-term partnership with the aforementioned Ferguson.

North Melbourne's Brooke Brown in action against Adelaide in R2, 2022. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

What worked:

  • Darren Crocker threw the magnets around and it was largely a positive experiment for North Melbourne this year. Tahlia Randall warmed into the season and became a genuine contested marking forward target. Emma Kearney's attacking run from half-back was a real driver for the side. Mia King showed the kind of strength and consistency around the ball that the Roos need for the long term. Each could be ticked off as a positive for the season.
  • Backing in emerging players across all lines was another plus for North Melbourne this year. Under the layer of stars like Riddell, Kearney, Jasmine Garner and Emma King, it was the work of Brown, Ferguson, Isabella Eddey and Sarah Wright who really propped up the side for much of the season.

What needs improvement:

  • While the side showed some real grit in its win over the Dockers, North Melbourne was largely unable to adapt on field when the game wasn't on its terms. Wanting to use almost a keepings-off game style, winning uncontested ball and using short kicks to teammates in space, but against better sides this style of play simply isn't sustainable. They were caught out against opponents who closed down space and didn't allow them to have much uncontested ball in the forward half.
  • When going inside 50 the Roos really struggled this year, often sending the ball forward in an ad hoc manner and seeing it immediately rebounded back out. While Randall did well to provide an aerial target late in the season, the connection between midfield and forward was found wanting.
North Melbourne coach Darren Crocker chats to his players against Collingwood in R7, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Early call for next season: The Kangaroos will go all in on its emerging players, focusing on long-term growth, but at the expense of some more experienced fan favourites.

Season rating: 6.5/10

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