North Melbourne Kangaroos produced a gritty display to register a precious 11-point win against Essendon Bombers, with the game ending Kangaroos 13.15.93 to Bombers 12.10.82.
North Melbourne’s star midfielder Jack Ziebell was the standout performer, collecting 29 disposals and kicking two majors to lead his side to victory. For the Bombers, Dyson Heppell was exceptional with 29 touches and almost singlehandedly got his team over the line.
Essendon made a barnstorming start, kicking the opening three goals of the match. Heppell saw plenty of the ball early on and kick this wonderful snapped goal to give his side a handy early 16-point buffer.
North Melbourne wasted an array of scoring opportunities, but were thankful Sam Gibson’s juggled mark and goal kept them within 12 points at the first change.
Essendon’s hard-nosed approach throughout the first quarter continued in the second with Michael Hurley leading the charge with this strong fend off on Jarrad Waite.
Essendon were incensed after this contentious decision not to pay a mark to Shaun McKernan resulted in a Brent Harvey goal at the other end that rescued the lead back for the Kangaroos.
They were further aggrieved, when Lindsay Thomas looked to have illegally shoved his opponent under the ball, only for the umpire to wave play on as he strolled into an open goal and extend the margin to two majors.
Thankfully, a Brendan Goddard goal moments before the half-time siren meant that the margin was a manageable 12 points at half-time for the Bombers.
The see-sawing contest ensued after the main break, with Essendon coming out with more conviction in the third quarter. Joe Daniher was awarded a free kick – much to the delight of the Bombers’ fans – as he stole back the lead (see below) for his side.
In a tug-of-war it was North Melbourne who gradually regained the momentum and Thomas put them back in front deep into the quarter.
North Melbourne took a nine-point lead into the final change, however, they will be disappointed with the actions of Jarrard Waite who was reported for this crude hit on Zach Merrett with just a minute remaining in the term.
Public enemy No. 1, Waite, responded to his ill-disciplined act with a crucial goal (see below) in the last quarter to give his side breathing space.
When it looked like North Melbourne were home and hosed, Essendon’s never-say-die attitude came to the fore yet again with Paddy Ambrose kicking this clever goal to get the Bombers back within five points.
However, it was merely a consolation with Shaun Higgins slotting a clinical set-shot from 50 metres and Ziebell put the game to bed with this brilliant long bomb from the centre.
Next week North Melbourne Kangaroos face the most difficult assignment in the competition when they travel to ladder leaders Fremantle Dockers on Saturday night, while for the Essendon Bombers they will hope to get their season back on track against bottom-placed Brisbane Lions at home on Sunday afternoon.