North Melbourne have fired an early warning shot to AFLW rivals with a 62-point demolition of Geelong, keeping the Cats goalless until late in the last quarter.
Preliminary finalists last year, the Kangaroos were ruthless at GMHBA Stadium on Sunday, dismantling the hosts 11.4 (71) to 1.3 (9) to record the biggest winning margin in their short history.
The Cats did not score until the third minute of the last quarter as North’s stars ran riot in a superb opening-round performance.
Geelong’s only goal came at the 16-minute mark of the final term from Aasta O’Connor.
North’s towering ruck Emma King produced one of the most dominant quarters in league history as she went to the first break with three goals, eight possessions and 10 hit-outs to her name.
While King split the game open early, she had plenty of support as North dominated in every area of the contest.
Umpires will have a difficult time narrowing down the votes to just three players such was North’s class up forward, in the middle and down back.
Midfielders Jasmine Garner (two goals, 18 possessions), Ellie Gavalas (three and 19), Emma Kearney (22 possessions) and Jenna Bruton (19) racked up disposals for fun.
North coach Darren Crocker, who took over from Scott Gowans ahead of this season, was pleased with the first-up performance.
“I was feeling a little bit of hope and this was our first real opportunity to give me some evidence that we could be a good team because everyone had been telling me we should,” he told reporters.
The shell-shocked Cats barely looked like scoring but managed to control the early part of the final quarter and responded to hit the scoreboard.
However, Geelong wasted opportunities to register a goal with six consecutive inside-50s before North then took the ball directly down the other end and Kaitlyn Ashmore kicked a major.
O’Connor’s late major saved the Cats the embarrassment of equalling the lowest score in league history, which is 0.3 (3) to Richmond in the final round of last season.
Geelong coach Paul Hood said his team would be “digesting” the loss for a while.
“We weren’t clean enough with our first possession and it meant there was a lot of pressure on us when we got the football,” he said.