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AFLW finals turned upside down as Kangaroos thrash defending champions Melbourne

North Melbourne is into an AFLW preliminary final after a stunning win over defending champion Melbourne at Princes Park.

The Kangaroos beat the Demons by 41 points, 7.8 (50) to 1.3 (9) in a brilliant, dominating display.

AFLW finals

Second elimination final

Geelong 7.9 (51) def Essendon 5.3 (33)

Second qualifying final

Melbourne vs North Melbourne

Melbourne will now have to face Geelong in an elimination semifinal next weekend after the Cats beat Essendon earlier in the day.

The Kangaroos were on top early, with fierce forward pressure and a string of chances.

The Demons found it difficult to get the ball out of their defensive 50.

Tahlia Randall struck the first blow for North with a great sidestep and snap getting the opening goal.

But the Kangaroos found it difficult to build on their momentum, with a series of misses. Melbourne kicked one behind for the quarter, but trailed only by 1.4 (10) to 0.1 (1).

Randall was proving difficult to stop in the Kangaroos’ forward line. She outbodied Libby Burch to take a mark deep inside 50 and extended her team’s lead three minutes into the second term.

The Demons, who had the number one attack in the league in the home and away season, were struggling to make things work going forward. They had some chances but a combination of poor options and conversion left them goalless to half-time, trailing 2.4 (16) to 0.1 (1).

The trend continued in the third quarter, as Melbourne failed to take opportunities. Lauren Pearce became the focal point up forward, but the final pass or shot was lacking.

A key moment came eight minutes into the quarter, when Melbourne turned it over on the wing, Kate Shierlaw ran onto the ball and she handballed to Randall who found Bella Eddey to kick the team’s third major.

The Demons needed a miracle run starting the final term 34 points down.

They didn’t get it, as the Kangaroos’ impregnable defence held for almost the entire day.

Melbourne had never been held goalless in an AFLW game, but it took until halfway through the final term for Alyssa Bannan to kick one..

When Alice O’Loughlin kicked another goal for the Kangaroos with five minutes remaining, it was time for celebrations for North fans in the stands and their players on the ground.

The Kangaroos’ Emma King completed the goalscoring with a major 70 seconds from the end.

Cats on the prowl after win over Bombers

Georgie Prespakis’ moment of brilliance produced one of a string of goals in the Cats’ win over Essendon.(Getty Images: Josh Chadwick)

Geelong advanced to the second week of the AFLW finals with a comprehensive 18-point win over Essendon at Kardinia Park.

The home side took hold of the game early and were rarely threatened as they ran away with a 7.9 (51) to 5.3 (33) victory.

The Cats made up for a disappointing outing in last year’s finals series where they kicked just 1.8 (16) against North Melbourne in the elimination final.

They matched their goal total from that game after barely 50 seconds against Essendon, as Georgie Prespakis won a clearance, setting up a mark to Chloe Scheer inside 50. She wheeled and kicked long to Irish player Aishling Moloney, who finished the move off.

Essendon’s defence was under fierce pressure early, and the Cats made it two minutes later, as some deft footwork from Moloney set up Jackie Parry.

The ball was coming inside 50 with worrying frequency for Essendon’s defence, and Scheer was on the end of another move taking a mark near the goalsquare to convert for Geelong’s third.

The Cats had a setback when Scheer was taken down to the rooms later in the first quarter, and was soon ruled out for the day with a shoulder injury.

Inside the final two minutes, the Bombers’ Amber Clarke was taken off on a stretcher after receiving a glancing blow to the head in a marking contest. She returned in the second half after passing a HIA.

Given the deficit of inside 50s (11-2) in the first quarter, Essendon was lucky to be down by just 3.4 (22) to 0.1 (21) at quarter time.

The Bombers lifted their game in the second term, but it took a couple of attempts before they got on the board, Sophie Alexander scoring their second major after a 50.

They couldn’t keep the momentum, however, and Nina Morrison set up Julia Crockett-Grills for a goal, before Moloney took a diving mark 30m out and slotted her second and Geelong’s fifth with eight minutes to go.

The home side were dominating possession, forward entries and scoring opportunities. Amy McDonald added another after grabbing a tap from Parry to kick one from the goalsquare, then Essendon answered through Maddy Prespakis a minute later.

But her sister Georgie delivered a big blow to the Bombers with 90 seconds left in the half, leaping high to spoil an Essendon mark, then regathered, steadied and drilled a brilliant goal.

The Cats led by 36 points at the main break.

The third quarter was a much closer affair, but neither side could convert, with Geelong kicking two behinds to no score to lead by 38 points.

The Bombers finished strongly, with goals to Maddy Prespakis, Bonnie Toogood and Ellyse Gamble, but the task of catching the Cats was too hard.

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Author: Russell White