Kangaroos and Crows thunder into AFLW preliminary finals

A fortnight after the Tigers drew with North to snatch the double chance from them, the Kangaroos fired back for a convincing 11.8 (74) to 6.2 (38) semi-final win and set up next week’s preliminary final against Melbourne.

North Melbourne kicked their highest score of the AFLW season in the 36-point victory over Richmond, with Jasmine Garner leading the way and Richmond forward and farmer Courtney Wakefield, a mother-of-two who drives 1200km and seven hours each way to attend Richmond training, chaired from the field after her last AFLW game.

A fortnight ago, a huge key to Richmond’s draw was the hard tag that Meg Macdonald put on Garner. But the North star was supreme in the rematch, racking up 22 possessions, seven tackles and seven clearances, as well as kicking two goals, in a best-afield performance.

Only 2439 fans attended the game, despite a rare mild spring day for sodden Melbourne. The Tigers generated plenty of debate through the week by exercising their right to play the semi at home, despite low crowd-capacity.

North have been notorious for their inaccuracy through the season, but a week after kicking just two goals in the elimination final win over Geelong they went on a scoring spree. The signs were ominous early for Richmond – after Katelyn Cox kicked her first AFLW goal to put them on the board, the Kangaroos put through the next three.

Macdonald started on Garner as expected but the North ace quickly broke the tag. The Tigers rallied with the last two goals of the term to trail by only two points at the first change but North broke the game open again in the second term with five goals to one.

Macdonald needed strapping on her left knee at quarter-time and Garner ran her ragged, going forward and kicking her two goals in the second term. Richmond shifted Sarah Hosking onto Garner at the start of the second half, conceding the tag that worked so well in round 10 was no longer viable in the semi.

Hosking set the tone at the start of the third term for Richmond with a couple of crunching tackles, plus a fierce bump on Mia King which sent the Kangaroos player to the bench with sore ribs and is sure to bring video scrutiny.

Tigers captain Katie Brennan kicked the first goal of the third term and when fellow star Mon Conti kicked another, they had a sniff. But North responded, and when Isabella Eddy kicked her second late in the quarter, they had a healthy five-goal lead.

Brennan thought she had given Richmond the perfect start to the last term with a snapped goal, but it was ruled touched. Teammate Emilia Yassir then had a shot for her third goal and missed. Perhaps inevitably, the ball ended up at the other end and Alice O’Loughlin kicked the sealing goal.

In today’s other semi-final, Adelaide overcome heavy storms, multiple delays and a gallant Collingwood to earn their AFLW preliminary final berth with a hard-fought 12-point triumph.

The Crows impressed in the wet and wild conditions either side of a lengthy delay at the first break, but still had to hold off a brave Magpies fightback to secure a 3.5 (23) to 1.5 (11) victory.

The start of the AFLW semi-final was initially delayed by 30 minutes due to lightning within 10km of Unley Oval in Adelaide. The opening term was played out during a break in the weather but the clash was put on hold for closer to an hour – and at risk of being postponed from a Saturday finish – after lightning returned before quarter-time.

The heavy storm during that break also left puddles of water scattered around the field that ensured a dour contest through the remaining three terms, but were not enough to slow the Crows.

Anne Hatchard (24 disposals, one goal) led the way for the Crows, while young gun Teah Charlton (15) also stepped up with star onballer Ebony Marinoff (11) unusually quiet until having more of an influence in the final term.

The Magpies worked their way into the match when kicking with a strong breeze and having 7-1 inside 50s in the third term but were unable to make the Crows fully pay on the scoreboard with 1.2. Jaimee Lambert (23 disposals) battled hard throughout for the Pies while Chloe Molloy (15, seven tackles) and (14, seven tackles) were also important. Eliza James booted the Magpies’ only major in the challenging conditions with a clever snap in third term.

After the first bounce was delayed by 30 minutes it took the Crows just 17 seconds to slot the opening goal, after surging the ball forward for Eloise Jones to crumb it 20 metres out for a flying start. The Crows were made to work harder for their second goal until Lisa Whiteley took a diving mark deep in the pocket and navigated a tricky breeze to kick truly.

The hosts led the Magpies by 11 points at the extended quarter-time break, stretching the margin to three goals at half-time after Hatchard skidded the ball through for the only major of the second term. The Magpies fought hard in the second half but scoring dried up as the Crows were able to create enough stoppages to slow the game down.

The Crows proved too good despite the absence of Chelsea Randall under the AFL’s concussion rules, after their skipper hit the ground heavily in a tackle during last week’s qualifying final against Melbourne. Randall also missed last year’s AFLW grand final due to concussion but will now hope to be available for the Crows’ preliminary final clash with minor premiers Brisbane.