FREMANTLE is into a preliminary final, kicking seven goals in the second and third terms to comfortably overcome North Melbourne by 38 points at Arden Street.
It's season over for the Kangaroos, who had finished in fourth spot but once again struggled to consistently perform against other top-six sides, losing their second successive qualifying final.
Fremantle had far too many options in attack, with a healthy goalkicking spread of 10 players in the 4.7 (31) to 11.3 (69) result.
North Melbourne looked ominous early, with Ellie Gavalas snapping a terrific opener from the boundary, but as has been the theme at times this season, the Roos failed to fully capitalise on their early dominance.
The two sides combined for six goals in the second term as the Dockers got rolling.
Gabby O'Sullivan (18 disposals, six clearances) and Hayley Miller (21, five and an important goal on the stroke of half-time) wrested control in the midfield, and Fremantle jumped out to a 10-point lead. Two goals in a minute brought the Roos right back into the game, but it was short-lived, the momentum swinging back the visitors way for a nine-point lead at the major break.
KANGAROOS v DOCKERS Full match coverage and stats
It was nearly party time in the third term. While the stats sheet looked fairly even, Fremantle was far more damaging with ball in hand, booting three goals to just two behinds.
Jas Garner provided a brief note of hope with the opening goal of the fourth after Emma Kearney was thrown into the middle, but Kiara Bowers' work rate and Kara Antonio's quick reply was the final nail in the coffin.
The Dockers lost ruck Sarah Wielstra to a left ankle injury following a marking contest in the first quarter, while Roos counterpart Kim Rennie was concussed in the second term.
Sore Bowers works way into match
An uncharacteristically quiet Bowers recorded zero disposals and just one tackle to quarter-time, but finished with a head full of steam. By the final siren, the champion Docker had 21 touches, eight clearances and three tackles, and coach Trent Cooper explained she had woken up this morning with a stiff back. It's not expected to affect her in the long term.
Roos' structural problems exposed
The importance of recruiting Rennie has perhaps been undersold this year. After she suffered a concussion, Emma King was moved into a full-time ruck role, with Tahlia Randall left as the sole tall forward. In the moments King needed a break, blue-chip midfielder Jas Garner was needed to face Mim Strom, robbing the Roos of a quality ball-winner.
Maybe the stats do lie?
A quick glance at the team v team statistics would suggest a closely fought affair, or even a North Melbourne victory. But Fremantle was so efficient, it didn't matter that the Roos recorded three more inside 50s or three more marks inside 50. The real difference was exposed in the clearance count, which the Dockers won by eight.
"The first quarter, the game was looking pretty good for us. We were playing the game pretty much the way we wanted to, our contested footy was strong in that first quarter, our inside-50 count was really strong, but we probably didn't build the scoreboard pressure we would have liked." – North Melbourne coach Darren Crocker
"Very happy. We had a tough run for a few weeks, but we felt we were really building and training has been really solid this week. Coming back to Victoria was great, we're five from five this year. We made sure we kept our structure today, and I'm really proud of how the forwards managed to do that." – Fremantle coach Trent Cooper
Fremantle's preliminary final will be against Adelaide in Adelaide, with a date and time yet to be determined. North Melbourne's season is over, and it will finish fifth or sixth depending on the result of the Brisbane-Collingwood clash.
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.4 3.5 3.7 4.7 (31)
FREMANTLE 1.1 5.2 8.2 11.3 (69)
North Melbourne: Gavalas, Abbatangelo, Randall, Garner
Fremantle: Hyde 2, Roux, O'Sullivan, East, Houghton, Miller, Webb, Tighe, K. Antonio, E. Antonio
North Melbourne: Riddell, Kearney, Garner, Bruton, E. King
Fremantle: Miller, O'Sullivan, Bowers, Tighe, Cuthbertson
North Melbourne: Rennie (concussion)
Fremantle: Wielstra (ankle)
Attendance: 1509 at Arden Street Oval
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