North Melbourne have sealed an AFLW finals berth after Jasmine Garner inspired a hard-fought one-point victory over Fremantle.
The Kangaroos led for much of the day but after Fremantle snatched the advantage late in the third term they had to dig deep to prevail 4.6 (30) to 4.5 (29) at Arden Street Oval.
The result crushed Carlton’s faint finals hopes and means the top six – Brisbane, Collingwood, Adelaide, Fremantle, North Melbourne and Melbourne – is locked in, though their positions can change.
Garner starred with 25 disposals and a goal, while skipper Emma Kearney (24 touches) and ball magnet Ashleigh Riddell (33 disposals) were also excellent, while Kiara Bowers (19 disposals) and Steph Cain (15 touches) were busy for the Dockers.
Kangaroos forward Sophie Abbatangelo drew first blood in the game’s opening minute but another goal did not come until Daria Bannister snapped North’s second shortly after quarter-time.
In the second quarter, the Dockers found a foothold in the game and hit back on the scoreboard through Gemma Houghton and Gabby O’Sullivan.
When Garner gave the Kangaroos some breathing room with a crucial mark and goal early in the third term, Bowers responded with her first of the day to draw the Dockers within touching distance.
Then, late in the quarter, skipper Kara Antonio slotted a set shot to put the Dockers in front and set up a blockbuster finish.
But Fremantle were unable to build on their advantage and when North’s Daisy Bateman received a free kick close to goal late in the final term, the young forward made no mistake, regaining the lead.
Fremantle’s Tiah Haynes had a late set shot to win the game but pulled her kick wide – and the Kangaroos overcame some late nerves in defence to hold on for the win.