North Melbourne have won through to their first AFLW grand final after holding off Adelaide in a 4.8 (32) to 4.7 (31) thriller at Princes Park.
The Kangaroos’ margin was cut to just one with minutes remaining when Crows triple premiership player Anne Hatchard took a stunning mark inside 50 and snapped for a goal.
But North controlled the play through to the final siren and will now host Brisbane in the decider at Princes Park next weekend.
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“I just got goosebumps on that siren. North Melbourne are ready,” AFLW premiership player Abbey Holmes said on Channel 7.
“Their list profile, they’ve got the perfect blend of experience but the balance of youth, and the belief, that’s something that’s been different this season.”
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Roos captain Emma Kearney said it was “relief” to hold off Adelaide after training to save a game for the past three weeks.
“We put it into practice time and time again, preparing for these sort of moments, and we were able to execute for perfection,” she told Channel 7.
“I thought we need to lock this down and fortunately we were able to do that.”
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Jenna Bruton starred for the Kangaroos with 28 disposals and five clearances, while Tahlia Randall kicked two goals.
Forward Danielle Ponter kicked Adelaide’s first three goals and was a constant threat.
North started much better and should have been further ahead than five points at quarter time.
North’s Niamh Martin – whose parents surprised her by flying into Melbourne from Ireland for the game – and Adelaide key defender Zoe Prowse collided heavily and had to leave the field, although they were soon back in the game.
Randall marked and goaled to put North on the board after three minutes and Kate Shierlaw slotted a major nine minutes later as the Kangaroos threatened to build a solid lead.
But Ponter stepped through a stoppage to kick a much-needed goal for the Crows late in the term.
Ponter and Kearney shaped up after they clashed on the quarter-time siren, their smiles devoid of any mirth.
Poor Adelaide defence meant Roos star Jas Garner took an easy mark, and she kicked superbly from an acute angle four minutes into the second term.
But that was the only goal of the quarter as the Crows settled and steadily worked into the game.
Ponter kicked the first two goals of the third term to briefly put Adelaide in front for the first time, before Randall took a strong mark and gave North a three-point lead at the last change.
Bruton went to another level in the third term, racking up 13 disposals.
– with AAP