A POWERFUL North Melbourne has stormed over Fremantle to claim a crucial win on the road, ending the match with seven unanswered goals to win by 45 points at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Sunday.
Led by brilliant midfielder Jasmine Garner and five-goal star Tahlia Randall, the Kangaroos soaked up the Dockers’ best and controlled the game through the second half, kicking their equal highest score this season to win 10.6 (66) to 3.3 (21).
DOCKERS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats
Garner was unstoppable in the midfield battles, finishing with 30 disposals and 12 inside 50s, while Ash Riddell was prolific with 37 possessions (16 contested) and six clearances.
With support from Jenna Bruton (27 and four clearances) and Mia King (21 and six), the Kangaroos delivered on their status as the AFLW’s best stoppage team and gained a territory foothold that put the Dockers on the back foot throughout.
The final inside 50s read 48-18 – an incredibly lopsided result that made it impossible for Fremantle’s forwards and made for a long day in the backline.
Emma O'Driscoll marshalled the defence well for the Dockers and finished with 28 disposals and eight rebounds, but the Kangaroos’ tall forwards got on top by the end in a powerful second half surge.
Randall was the spearhead, kicking goals in every quarter to be a constant presence, and booting four of the Kangaroos' seven unanswered goals that turned an arm wrestle into a comfortable win. Kate Shierlaw was also terrific, kicking two goals in a tight second quarter.
Only four points separated the teams late in the second term, but Randall converted after the siren to give the Kangaroos momentum they would take into the second half.
They got the crucial break in the third, kicking back-to-back goals through Randall and Tess Craven, who benefited from a 50m penalty, and holding Fremantle scoreless to open a 22-point lead at the last change.
The Dockers needed to move quickly to start the fourth, but, as for much of the day, it was Shierlaw and Randall combining early in the fourth for the goal that broke their backs, kicking off a four-goals-to-nil quarter.
Bruton joins 1000 club
In her 50th game as a North Melbourne player, midfielder Jenna Bruton became just the 16th player in AFLW history to win 1000 disposals. The understated star of the Kangaroos’ powerful onball unit, Bruton needed 22 disposals to hit the milestone on Sunday, and got there early in the fourth quarter. She powered on to finish with 27 in an excellent game. "It’s a wonderful achievement, " coach Darren Crocker said. "Her ability to get from contest to contest, win post-clearance groundball and pressure the opposition is something we love about her".
Miller at full forward
With Kiara Bowers still sidelined, the Dockers needed a lift in the midfield to compete with the Kangaroos’ stars. Hayley Miller was the obvious candidate, but the skipper appeared hampered by a hand injury and was moved to full forward in the crucial third quarter. With North Melbourne dominating field position, she was unable to get involved, with the Dockers moving the key playmaker back into the middle in the final term. Bowers is doing some training as she battles knee bone bruising, and coach Lisa Webb expects her availability for next week would become clearer in the next couple of days.
The Dockers are on the road to take on Geelong next Saturday at GMHBA Stadium, where they last played an AFLW match in 2019, winning by 13 points. North Melbourne is back at home to meet Port Adelaide at Arden Street on Sunday, having beaten the Power by 25 points at Alberton last season.
FREMANTLE 1.1 3.1 3.1 3.3 (21)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.5 4.5 6.5 10.6 (66)
Fremantle: Antonio, Lally, Tighe
North Melbourne: Randall 5, Shierlaw 2, Craven, Eddey, O’Loughlin,
Fremantle: O’Driscoll, East, Strom, Verrier
North Melbourne: Garner, Randall, Riddell, Shierlaw, Bruton, M. King
North Melbourne: Nil
Crowd: 2,022 at Fremantle Community Bank Oval