Essendon has recorded an eighth straight win over North Melbourne, with a 48-point victory at Marvel Stadium.
The Bombers led from start to finish with Jake Stringer the hero with a season-high five goals in the 17.12 (114) to 9.12 (66) win.
North Melbourne struggled to find avenues to goal on Sunday as the Bombers easily rebounded from defence.
The only sour note for Essendon’s win was a calf injury to Jye Caldwell, who was subbed out in the third term.
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QUARTER-BY-QUARTER MATCH REPORT
Both teams were forced to make crucial pre-game changes.
Bombers midfielder Dylan Shiel was a late withdrawal due to a hamstring injury, with Archie Perkins replacing him. Jye Menzie made her debut as the medi sub.
The Kangaroos were hit by Covid, with Jack Mahony and Lachie Young withdrawn and replaced by Kayne Turner and Phoenix Spicer.
The Bombers were on the board first through Jake Stringer after the forward found himself at the back of the pack.
Stringer competed in the air and landed quickly on his feet as the ball bounced toward goal.
Despite Aidan Bonar’s best efforts to knock the ball through, he slapped it onto Stringer’s boot.
After a quick score review, it was confirmed Essendon had the first for the day.
But the Roos had all the run for the next five minutes as Bailey Scott slotted his first and Nick Larkey missed a great chance to get himself on the scoreboard.
Stringer almost had his second with a snap from the goal square but it was ruled touched. A minute later, he found himself one-out with Roo Jaidyn Stephenson and he took full advantage.
Stringer converted his set shot from 40m to register his 300th career goal.
He added his third goal for the day from the resulting center clearance after a brilliant pick up by Matt Guelfi.
“If you leave Jake Stringer with a bit of space inside forward 50, he will make you pay every time,” commentator Jordan Lewis said.
“(Hugh) Greenwood is accountable at some point, but who picks him up from there?” Fox Footy’s Jonathan Brown questioned.
Cam Zurhaar had the immediate response for North Melbourne after Jack Ziebell drew a free kick.
Zurhaar took full advantage as the ball got to the back and the Roos closed the margin to five points.
Ben Rutten’s decision to shift James Stewart forward to taken advantage of the height difference with Bonar paid off when the swingman pulled down a big contested grab.
He calmly went back to slot his first for the year.
“There’s just too much space there. It was a really dangerous kick … but (North were) disorganized inside the defensive 50,” Lewis said.
Some great desperation from Nick Hind denied the Roos their third goal of the day as the Bombers enjoyed a 15-point buffer at the first change.
Stringer had a hand in Essendon’s sixth goal when he tried to crash through the contest and propelled the footy forward.
Stewart got on the end of it for his second for the day.
“He’s a raging bull at the moment. Like a front rower in rugby crashing through,” Brown praised.
“He’s the hottest player on the ground,” Lewis added.
Will Snelling paid a heavy price for his movement on the mark when called to stand, and was hit by a 50m penalty.
“The rules are rules. That’s a 50-meter penalty every time,” Brown said.
Kayne Turner made no mistake with the set shot as the margin closed to just eight points.
Harry Jones pushed the lead back out as North became “a little messy” with ball in hand, but it was a lapse in concentration that really hurt the Roos.
With Archie Perkins just out of range at 55m out, no one went to Mason Redman as he charged past the mark.
The handball was given and Redman easily slotted the goal on the run.
“You have to go and man him up – that’s just a lapse in concentration,” Lewis said.
“He was celebrating early … as soon as it left his boot, the finger was up,” Brown added, laughing.
Perkins blew a gold opportunity to cement their dominance as North Melbourne were struggling to find a way out of the defensive 50.
But when Sam Durham put the foot down and sped down the wing, Kyle Langford slotted the goal to push the Bombers out to a 30-point lead minutes out from half time.
Despite finding plenty of footy in the third, the Roos just couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard.
Phoenix Spicer and Nick Larkey couldn’t convert their chances but down the other end, the Bombers were able to hit targets.
Zach Merrett and Matt Guelfi added their first goals for the day as debutant Jye Menzies entered the game.
Jye Caldwell was subbed off with a calf injury and went straight down to the rooms, but the change did little to slow Essendon’s momentum.
When Peter Wright kicked his second goal for the night, he edged closer to his first-ever 50-goal season.
The big man now sits at 47 for the year in just his second season at the club.
By three quarter time, the Bombers had pushed the lead out to 33 points.
The final quarter simply belonged to the Bombers as they racked up their highest score in season 2022.
Essendon kicked four goals to two, including three straight to really blow the margin out.
By full time, it was Essendon 48-point winners with Jake Stringer kicking a season-high five goals.
3. DON’T DISCOVER WINNING RUN
Essendon’s defense was savaged early in 2022 when described as “witches hats”. But against the Roos on Sunday, it was the Bombers’ back line that kept them in the contest.
Without Dylan Shiel, who was a late withdrawal from the clash, the Bombers were belted in the center clearance count.
Despite not getting first hands on it and starting on the back foot, Essendon’s back six stood tall and continually turned defense into attack.
But three quarter time, seven of Essendon’s 13 goals came directly from defence.
“They don’t rush Essendon, they just built up the play and then go once they get forward of centre,” Fox Footy’s Jonathan Brown praised.
“They’ve scored three goals from defensive 50 today (to half time). They’ve moved the ball really well end to end.
“It’s been a real strength of theirs in the last seven weeks Essendon.”
While Brown said the transition strength was out of necessity due to the lost clearance count, he said he found the movement “sensational”.
By three quarter time, Essendon had scored 7.0 from defensive half compared to North’s 0.1.
Fox Footy’s Jordan Lewis praised Essendon’s taken ability to score from the back half without “a lot of risk”.
“They’ve been able to transition far too easily. They’ve got a good understanding of when to go quick and when to slow it down,” he praised.
2. THE BIG PROBLEM PLAGUING NORTH
Nick Larkey is North Melbourne’s most successful forward in 2022, with a team high 29 goals heading into Sunday’s clash at Marvel Stadium.
But the big forward just couldn’t get his hands on it against the Bombers with Fox Footy’s Jonathan Brown questioning who was to blame.
Too often Larkey was caught in a one on two, or the ball delivery wasn’t where he needed it to be.
“How many kicks do you see go to Larkey and they’ve gone to the top of his head?” Jordan Lewis questioned.
But Brown said the responsibility didn’t always lie solely with the kicker.
“I wonder if he’s getting out of the blocks too quickly? His timing of him (could be off), ”Brown replied.
By three quarter time, Larkey had just three disposals.
“He’s just maybe starting his lead a bit early. Get a bit desperate and want to get involved in the game,” Brown said.
“But you can rush the kicker and then the ball goes over your head too often.”
Statistics showed the Roos went to Larkey 13 times in the first three terms – compared to the next best Cam Zurhaar with just three targets.
“The amount of ball that go over his head, he’s got to ask himself the question – why is that happening?” Brown said.
“Don’t just put it on the kicker. He needs to understand where he’s positioned, how he’s contributing to that.”
Lewis agreed Larkey was getting caught too high up trying to get his hands on the footy early.
“I just reckon the North Melbourne forwards are getting too high, especially Larkey, He needs to be that deeper option.”
It should be noted opponent Brandon Zerk-Thatcher had a brilliant day, with a one-one-one diving spoil on Larkey the highlight of the contest.
Larkey finished his day with seven touches, four marks and 0.3 from his shots.
1. SENSATIONAL STRINGER BREAKS GAME APART
Jake Stringer essentially put North Melbourne away by quarter time.
The dangerous Bomber had three goals in the opening term, including two in the spare of two minutes.
But it was his ability to get to the footy and loom large that made him most dangerous.
With Dylan Shiel a late out, Stringer spent more time in the middle, opposed to Roo Hugh Greenwood.
But when he’d sneak forward, it was then up to Luke McDonald to make that transition.
And it was during that handover that Stringer took advantage.
“It’s hard when Stringer is up and about. We know he was at the end of last year – he’s got that look about him today,” Jonathan Brown praised.
“He just puts himself in really dangerous positions and makes the defender really jumpy.
“He’s been the hottest player when the ball has gone inside forward 50.”
Brown praised Stringer’s “really dynamic” approach to the footy against the Roos.
“He’s looked really dangerous form the get-go,” Brown said.
“He’s had that look today that he’ll break the game wide open.
“I’ve liked his energy, his enthusiasm for the contest.
“Six tackles as well shows where his mindset has been at today.”
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