AAP AFL

Bombers blitz seals AFL win over Kangaroos

By AAP Newswire

Essendon's once-forlorn AFL finals hopes have been further boosted by a thrilling 17-point win over North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

John Worsfold's side led by a game-high 32 points early in the third quarter on Sunday before holding off a late challenge to record a 19.11 (125) to 16.12 (108) win, their fifth victory in their past six matches.

The Bombers were 15th on the ladder after their disastrous 2-6 start to the season but are just a game outside the eight in 12th spot after they improved to a 7-7 record.

"If the players weren't disappointed at various parts in that first part of the year then I would have been concerned but we were all on the same page," Worsfold said of his side's reversal in fortunes.

"We all understood it was frustrating for us and it makes you anxious but the good teams hold their nerve and stay focused and these players did that and trusted in each other."

A high-scoring shootout in the first half settled into a more-typical defensive contest in the second, with a seven-goal blitz by Essendon proving the difference.

Orazio Fantasia and Shaun McKernan were the Bombers' main weapons with four goals apiece.

Dyson Heppell (34 possessions) and Zach Merrett (32) were huge for Essendon, with Merrett finishing with 12 clearances.

Shaun Higgins continued a run of fine form for North with 31 possessions and Todd Goldstein won the ruck battle with 44 hitouts.

Mason Wood booted three majors but suffered a late hamstring injury and is set for a stint on the sidelines.

"The game was of a pretty high standard and both teams kicked good goals," North coach Brad Scott said.

"Essendon played a really good style of footy, they really played to their strengths. We did our best to try and mitigate those strengths and it worked pretty well at times.

"But at others they were just too good for us and were able to get out with some real speed."

North midfielder Ben Jacobs was a late withdrawal for the second match running with concussion symptoms.

"It's a concern because he hasn't played for a couple of weeks but we're not concerned with the medium- or long-term ramifications," Scott said, adding Jacobs was a chance to play in next week's clash against Gold Coast.

The Bombers will attempt to maintain their winning momentum when they face second-placed Collingwood at the MCG on Sunday.