Lofty Dockers ready for AFLW finals fight

Justin Chadwick
Dockers captain Kara Antonio is confident but cautious heading into the AFLW finals series

Pacesetters Fremantle and North Melbourne will be aiming to avoid a shock early exit when the rejigged AFLW finals series gets underway this weekend.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the AFL to cancel the final two rounds of the women's season and head straight to finals.

Under the original finals format, the top three teams from each conference would have qualified, with both conference leaders given the first week off.

That scenario would have given unbeaten Fremantle (6-0) and conference A leaders North Melbourne (5-1) a deserved bye.

But that has now been thrown out the window, with a total of eight teams now included in what will be effectively be a series of elimination finals.

The Dockers will host Gold Coast at Fremantle Oval on Saturday, while North Melbourne play Collingwood at Ikon Park.

GWS hosts Melbourne on Saturday, while Carlton take on Brisbane on Sunday.

Fremantle captain Kara Antonio concedes her team's lofty ladder position now counts for little.

"We know as a footy club that finals series are completely different to home and away," Antonio said.

"So ladder positions and past games go out the window. Whoever wants it more and whoever can hit the scoreboard when they get their opportunities (will win).

"It doesn't really matter where you finished on the ladder, because every final is an elimination.

"The reality is we can get knocked out on the weekend, as can North Melbourne, and we both finished on the top of the ladder."

The Dockers will be boosted by the return of star forward Roxy Roux, who was rested for last week's win over the Bulldogs.

Gold Coast forward Kalinda Howarth looms as Fremantle's biggest threat after booting four goals in a best-afield effort against the Eagles last week.

North Melbourne boast a percentage of 227.2 - more than 62 per cent better than their nearest rival.

Their only blemish this year was a two-point loss to Melbourne in the opening round.

Since then they have gone on a five-game winning rampage, but they are yet to face the Magpies (4-2) this season.

The entire finals series will be played behind closed doors.