NORTH Melbourne has steamrolled its way into a preliminary final against Melbourne, consigning Richmond to a straight-sets exit from the finals in the 36-point defeat.
TIGERS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats
The Roos – inspired by an ultra-determined Jas Garner – produced their highest score of the season in the 11.8 (74) to 6.2 (38) win, while the Tigers should be proud of their improved season, but will be licking their wounds after being outclassed at the Swinburne Centre.
As expected, Richmond tagger Meg Macdonald renewed acquaintances with Garner, but the superstar Roo was more than up to the task, recording nine disposals and four clearances in the first term.
DECISIVE DUEL Garner shuns Tiger clamp
Macdonald started the second term on the bench receiving treatment on her left knee, but saw out the game against the Roo, who finished with 22 disposals, seven clearances, seven tackles and two goals.
Having shots on goal has never been an issue for North Melbourne, but its goalkicking accuracy has cost them in a few games this season.
That was not the case in the second quarter, piling on five goals as Garner pushed forward to continue to break the tag, and Emma King's height proved to be a troubling factor for the Tigers' backline.
The Tigers didn't go into their shell after half-time, starting to even up the midfield contest and seeing the margin only extend by one point, but the gap was too big to bridge.
Small forward Emelia Yassir was a constant threat in attack for the Tigers, while key forward Courtney Wakefield can hold her head up high if it turns out Saturday was the 35-year-old's final AFLW game, having been chaired off at the conclusion of the game.
For the Roos, Ash Riddell produced a strong four-quarter game, with Jenna Bruton's pressure around the contest key to the result, and Brooke Brown and Emma Kearney working well off half-back.
It was a case of the walking-wounded for the Tigers, with star playmaker Monique Conti appearing to battle both a knee and groin issue throughout the game, while Eilish Sheerin received treatment on a thumb issue.
Mia King was on the receiving end of a heavy bump from Sarah Hosking – who came out full of fire after half-time – but returned to play after her ribs were tested by the club medical team.
The return of Rennie
While North Melbourne skipper Emma Kearney was missing when these two sides played a fortnight ago, but it was arguably the absence of ruck Kim Rennie (health and safety protocols) that was more telling. With Rennie back on deck, Emma King spent much more time stretching Richmond's backline, and Vikki Wall could play a full game in attack.
The tough draw pays off
North Melbourne finished eighth on the home-and-away ladder, but it was arguably a false eighth, with the 10-round season meaning each team's fixture was key. The Roos were the only top eight side to have played all seven finalists, and the difficult draw has clearly held them in good stead, being well-experienced in high-pressure games against quality opposition.
It's season done for Richmond, while North Melbourne will face Melbourne in a preliminary final, with Dees coach Mick Stinear last week indicating it was likely to be at Ikon Park.
RICHMOND 3.0 4.0 6.0 6.2 (38)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.2 8.5 10.6 11.8 (74)
Richmond: Yassir 2, Cox, Wakefield, Conti, Brennan
North Melbourne: Abbatangelo 2, Garner 2, O'Loughlin 2, E. King, Eddey, Gavalas, Randall, Eddey
Richmond: McKenzie, Sheerin, Conti, Brennan, Seymour
North Melbourne: Garner, Riddell, Bruton, E. King, Kearney, Brown
Richmond: Conti (groin), Sheerin (thumb), Macdonald (knee)
North Melbourne: M. King (ribs)
Crowd: 2,439 at the Swinburne Centre