NORTH Melbourne has stamped its authority on the AFLW on the eve of finals, dispensing with the Western Bulldogs by 46 points on Saturday afternoon.
It was the Jasmine Garner and Ash Riddell show for the Roos as they methodically worked toward the 7.13 (55) to 1.3 (9) victory at Whitten Oval.
BULLDOGS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats
Garner continued her goalkicking ways with two majors to go with her 31 disposals, while Riddell was unstoppable through the middle of the ground with 36 disposals, seven clearances and 678m gained.
There was a sense of stagnancy in the Bulldogs, trying to eke the ball forward once possession was won, but against the best defensive side in the league they were doing themselves no favours.
North Melbourne, however, was ready and willing to move fast through the middle of the ground. Always working in support of one another, and often kickstarted by captain Emma Kearney at half back.
Kim Rennie (13 disposals, six marks) was an aerial force early in the game, patrolling the wing and taking important marks to maintain the Kangaroos' chain of possession down the ground, while Amy Smith's no-fuss style of play resulted in an important 14 disposals and five tackles.
The Bulldogs were saved more scoreboard pain thanks to a gritty defensive performance from their backs, and North Melbourne's inaccuracy. In the face of 41 inside 50s from the visiting side, the Dogs conceded seven goals while teenager Aurora Smith (five intercepts, nine disposals) worked hard to be aggressive and creative out of the back half.
Where real problems arose for the Dogs was when trying to exit defence, often finding themselves trapped up against one boundary line in congestion. North Melbourne was then able to win the footy and look laterally to find targets in space ready to attack once more.
The Roos looked especially dangerous on turnover, moving the ball aggressively through the corridor with clean skills, hitting up targets inside 50 or, at the very least, space to run onto the footy.
It took until the opening minutes of the final quarter for the home side to jag a goal from the boot of Brit Gutknecht, but it wasn't enough to save them from registering their equal-lowest ever score.
Key defensive duo Gabby Newton (18 disposals, six intercepts) and Issy Grant (nine, eight) worked hard in an effort to minimise the impact of the Roos' talls.
A spluttering end to a tough season
After a season that has born just one win and plenty of frustration for fans, the Bulldogs struggled to challenge North Melbourne in one last stand this year. Trapped in defence for much of the game, and lacking connection when they did get the ball forward, it was a game representative of the whole campaign, and one they will no doubt make every effort to change ahead of next year.
Before the first siren even went the Bulldogs were thrown two curveballs. First, replacing Millie Brown in the side with former Swan and train on player Sarah Skinner. Nathan Burke was then forced to make another change after teenager Heidi Woodley came from the field in tears after the warmup, handing Dom Carbone a second game for the club this year. Looking into the stands, they were littered with the battered and bruised non-playing Bulldogs, nursing injuries picked up throughout the season.
For the Bulldogs, it's season over with an introspective off-season ahead. The Roos, however, will look toward their finals fixture being confirmed as they ramp up ahead of the post-season.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.3 (9)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.3 4.9 5.11 7.13 (55)
Western Bulldogs: Gutknecht
North Melbourne: Garner 2, E.King, Shierlaw, Gavalas, Randall, O'Shea
Western Bulldogs: Smith, Blackburn, Georgostathis, Grant, Newton
North Melbourne: Kearney, Garner, Riddell, Rennie, Smith
Western Bulldogs: Nil
North Melbourne: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Millie Brown (knee soreness) and Heidi Woodley (TBC), replaced in the selected side by Sarah Skinner and Dominique Carbone
North Melbourne: Mia King (general soreness), replaced in the selected side by Ruby Tripodi
Crowd: 2,608 at Whitten Oval