AAP AFL

Bombers claim scrappy AFL win over North

By AAP Newswire

Essendon have moved into the AFL's top four after a hard-fought 14-point win over North Melbourne on the Gold Coast.

The Bombers, who were guilty of blowing several scoring opportunities throughout the match, kicked clear in the second half to move to 4-1 with the 9.13 (67) to 7.11 (53) win at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.

It means John Worsfold's team are fourth on the ladder with a game in hand.

"We knew it was gonna be contested game," Worsfold said.

"It's a big part of the way North Melbourne play and in the end we matched them in that area.

"Probably weren't as clean as we would have liked to have been outside ... we left a few opportunities out there, but really pleased to come away with a solid win."

The Kangaroos, who started the year 2-0, are now 2-4 after four straight defeats and in desperate need of a win.

David Zaharakis kicked three goals for the Bombers and picked up 19 disposals in an all-action display while Kyle Langford had two majors including an important effort after the first quarter siren.

Andrew McGrath had a game-high 25 disposals while Devon Smith (23 possessions) was also heavily involved.

The Kangaroos have now lost their past five against Essendon and also have injury worries with Jed Anderson (quad) joining Ben Cunnington (back) and Jack Ziebell (hamstring) on the sidelines after being ruled out pre-game.

Despite the defeat, North coach Rhyce Shaw believed the performance showed his team is not far away from finding their way to a much-needed win.

"We seemed to get our game back a little bit," Shaw said.

"Although we didn't get the result that we wanted, and that's really disappointing, we certainly found our game again."

Cameron Zurhaar was the only multiple goalkicker for North, picking up two majors while Luke McDonald did a good job keeping Dylan Shiel quiet and Todd Goldstein was dominant in the ruck.

A return of 5.11 at halftime highlighted the Bombers' wastefulness but despite the Kangaroos doing their best to stay in the contest Essendon did enough to keep their noses in front and claim the win.

There could be a nervous wait for Shiel after a third-quarter bump on North's Curtis Taylor sent the youngster to the sheds for a concussion test but the 20-year-old did return in the fourth quarter.

The match also marked Conor McKenna's first appearance since his coronavirus scare, with the dashing halfback picking up 18 touches.

Essendon play the Western Bulldogs next Friday at Metricon Stadium while North Melbourne take on premiers Richmond at the same venue the following day.