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Zanker cameo hands Dees AFLW win

Madeleine Guerin takes possession of the ball and evades her Kangaroos opponents in Round 1. Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images

Melbourne have celebrated Daisy Pearce's return in style, defeating North Melbourne by two points in their AFLW opener at Casey Fields.

A breakout performance from young forward Eden Zanker -- who booted one goal and created another -- proved the catalyst for Saturday afternoon's come-from-behind win for the Demons, who prevailed 3.4 (22) to 3.2 (20) in a see-sawing affair.

Jasmine Garner (18 disposals) racked up the ball at will for the Kangaroos alongside Emma Kearney (20 touches) and Ashleigh Riddell (also 20), while Melbourne on-ballers Karen Paxman and Elise O'Dea (15 disposals apiece) were superb throughout.

Demons defender Libby Birch starred across half-back, while Kate Hore (two goals) provided a spark in attack in front of 3500 fans.

The Kangaroos drew first blood and took a 13-point lead into the first break.

Kaitlyn Ashmore caught Sinead Goldrick holding the ball and converted her banana kick effort to open the scoring.

Garner found Elisha King with a searching kick. King received a 50-metre penalty and slotted the goal from close range.

Hore sparked a Melbourne revival in the second term, catching Brittany Gibson holding the ball and steering through her set shot.

Minutes after Zanker ran off the ground clutching her arm in pain, the young Demon returned to play a crucial role.

Tegan Cunningham dispossessed Danielle Hardiman close to goal, with Zanker crumbing and dribbling a shot towards the goal square, where Hore scrambled it home, giving Melbourne the slenderest halftime lead.

North Melbourne regained the lead in the third quarter when Riddell snapped through a left-footed goal, which swerved in the wind and beat all comers.

But despite trailing by five at the final break, the Demons prevailed with the only goal of the fourth quarter.

Hore gathered a hard ball and flicked it on to Ainslie Kemp, who charged through midfield and delivered a long kick into space for Zanker to run onto.

Zanker galloped into an open goal and put the Demons in front and they did not concede from there.