K rock Football

Dockers lock away finals berth

FREMANTLE has qualified for the AFLW finals at the expense of North Melbourne after beating the Kangaroos by 27 points in Saturday’s winner-takes-all clash at Fremantle Oval.

Both sides entered the match boasting 5-1 records, with the winner guaranteed to finish second in Conference A and the loser to end up third and miss the finals.

Kiara Bowers starred with 22 disposals, seven clearances and 13 tackles to lead Fremantle to the 7.10 (52) to 4.1 (25) win in front of 6386 fans.

Under the AFLW’s controversial conference system, the top two teams from each group qualify for the finals.

It means although North Melbourne (5-2) finished the season with a better record than every team in conference B, they won’t be part of the finals.

“We knew exactly what the conference system was and what we had to do,” Kangaroos coach Scott Gowans said.

“It is what it is. It’s not like it was made up two weeks ago. It was pretty simple today, we had to win, and we didn’t.”

Fremantle coach Trent Cooper couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for North Melbourne.

“I do feel for North Melbourne that they had to come across here and play in (what was effectively) a final when they didn’t deserve to be in that situation,” Cooper said.

Another controversial aspect of the conference system is the finals set-up, with the top team from each group earning hosting rights for the preliminary finals, no matter how poor their record is.

It means Fremantle will be forced to play an away preliminary final next week against the leaders of conference B.

That appears set to be Carlton (3-3) barring a big loss on Sunday to the Western Bulldogs.

Geelong (3-4) and Brisbane (2-4) are still a slight chance to finish top of that group.

Adelaide (6-1) finished on top of conference A with a percentage of 212.9.

The Kangaroos were made to pay for their poor start against the Dockers.

Although North Melbourne won the inside-50 count 10-7 in the opening term, Fremantle kicked the only two goals for the quarter to take a 13-0 lead.

The Kangaroos challenged Fremantle several times, but the Dockers dominated for most of the second half to secure the win.

Star forward Sabreena Duffy (ankle) and midfielder Dana Hooker (corked leg) were carried off in the second half, but they are both expected to be fit next week.

© AAP 2019

FREMANTLE 2.1 4.2 5.4 7.10 (52)

NORTH MELBOURNE 0.0 1.1 3.1 4.1 (25)

Goals: Fremantle: A Sharp 2 S Duffy 2 A Atkins G Houghton K Gibson. North Melbourne: M Hope 2 E Kearney K Ashmore.

Best: Fremantle: K Bowers E Antonio S Duffy M Caulfield A Atkins. North Melbourne: E Kearney J Bruton Emma King J Duffin J Stanton K Ashmore.

Injuries: Fremantle: D Hooker (corked leg) S Duffy (ankle). North Melbourne: Nil.

Reports: Nil.

Umpires: Andrew Heffernan, Dan Johanson, Peter Bailes.

Official Crowd: 6,386 at Fremantle Oval.