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AFLW: Round 7, 2019 Preview

Coach: Trent Cooper
Captain: Kara Donnellan
Last year's finish: Seventh
2018 Best and Fairest: Ebony Antonio

A win is imperative for both the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos and Fremantle, as the sides battle it out to secure a finals berth in a stacked Conference A.

Saturday’s clash will pit two the second and third best teams in Conference A against each other, with only percentage separating North from its nearest rivals.

Holding second and third place respectively, the Roos hold a slight buffer of just 9.9 per cent over the Dockers.

With the conference system in play, the top two teams from each pool will secure a place in the preliminary finals next Saturday.

Key match-ups

A host of potential match-ups will be on tap at Fremantle Oval, including a can’t-miss meeting in the engine room between North captain Emma Kearney and star Docker, Dana Hooker.

Averaging 18 disposals this season, Hooker is a vital cog in Fremantle’s attacking machine, providing plenty of the footy to their forward options.

Meanwhile, Kearney boasts a slight advantage statistically, holding an average of 20 possessions this season, working in conjunction with fellow ball-magnet, Jenna Bruton.

The hosts will be equally dependant on the tackling tenacity of Kiara Bowers, having highlighted her worth with another dominant display, falling just two tackles short of the AFLW record with 19, in addition to her 16 touches.

A puzzle that could take some solving for North will be the role of multiple position threat, Ebony Antonio.

Last year’s club best and fairest winner for Fremantle continues to cause headaches for opposition with her dexterity across the ground, providing genuine issues for figures in both the forward and defensive six.

These sentiments will be echoed for Fremantle, which will need to manage North’s menacing forward pairing of Jas Garner and Mo Hope.

Who to look out for

Despite converting just one goal against the Cats, key forward Gemma Houghton’s marking and aerial prowess was a key narrative last weekend.

As North’s tall defence, including the likes of Danielle Hardiman and Tahlia Randall, continue to perform under duress, a replica of recent performances could be essential.

After impressing in her maiden game in the royal blue and white stripes, Daria Bannister has been retained, and is expecting to make an impact in consecutive games.

Her left-footed snap under pressure was ample evidence of the danger the Tasmanian can cause when given a goal-kicking opportunity.