Dees hold off North to reach AFLW decider

Melbourne are one step away from a breakthrough AFLW flag after hanging on for a gritty 17-point win over North Melbourne.

Lily Mithen and Tyla Hanks starred as the Demons weathered a third-quarter storm in the 5.3 (33) to 2.4 (16) victory in Saturday's preliminary final at Ikon Park.

Mick Stinear's side will meet minor premiers Brisbane in the grand final at Brighton Homes Arena on Sunday week.

After losing the decider away to Adelaide last season, the Demons will again travel interstate in pursuit of their first AFLW premiership.

Mithen (16 disposals, one goal) was everywhere in Melbourne's eighth consecutive win, with Hanks (20 disposals, 12 tackles) and veteran Karen Paxman (19 disposals, seven tackles) also influential in a tight contest.

Neither side led by more than two goals until Demons captain Daisy Pearce brought the crowd of 5592 fans to its feet with a superb piece of play to kick the sealer in the dying stages.

Star forward Tayla Harris battled on despite hurting her left shoulder during a first-quarter ruck contest and will be a close watch in grand final week.

"It was hard work but I'm really proud of the group," Melbourne coach Stinear said.

"North are a quality team ... but I was pleased with our team's ability to hang in there.

"In the third quarter we battened down the hatches and did well not to concede too much of a score, and in the last quarter we really started to get our game going.

"We feel like there's plenty of growth for improvement but full credit to North for the way they played. It was a real grind."

Ash Riddell (17 disposals), Jasmine Garner (25) and captain Emma Kearney (17) were among the best for North Melbourne.

Riddell became the fastest player in AFLW history to register 1000 career disposals, reaching the mark in just 43 games.

But the record was of little consolation as the Kangaroos were left ruing a wasteful third quarter.

They dominated territory for the term - enjoying an 18-2 advantage in forward entries - and kept Melbourne scoreless.

But they failed to cash in, registering just two behinds of their own to trim the margin to three points at the final change.

Melbourne got the crucial first goal of the last quarter through Kate Hore, who had been quiet to that point.

Pearce then put the match to bed with a brilliant gather and snap around her body with less than three minutes left on the clock.

North Melbourne had risen from eighth spot to reach the final four and almost caused a boilover.

"We certainly had a crack," Kangaroos coach Darren Crocker said.

"We felt we were in the game pretty much the whole way through ... but we had all the momentum in that third quarter and just couldn't find a way to score.

"There'll be some lessons out of that, but I just thought when (Melbourne) had the momentum they made the most of it."