Bombers recover to avoid heavy defeat
ADVERSITY has yapped at Essendon’s heels for longer than it cares to remember and, at half-time, the Bombers’ suffering appeared certain to plumb to fresh depths.
Restricted to its lowest halftime score in more than a century, Essendon teetered on the cusp of a monumental flogging at Etihad Stadium.
Trailing by 50 points, it had been mercilessly punished by a ruthless and more efficient North Melbourne and restricted to 0.4 at half-time.
Not since it managed only 0.3 against Collingwood in 1915 had Essendon endured a lean- er opening to an AFL/VFL clash. The second half, apparently, was going to nothing more than a celebration march for the rampaging Kangas.
Wrong. Finding inspiration where there was evidently none, the Bombers charged home to cut a match-high deficit of 52 points to 14. The revival was not enough to prevent North unleashing its best start to a season since 1978 with an eighth successive win.
But John Worsfold’s troops made a statement. A loud statement. The Bombers might lack polish and cohesion but, regardless of circumstance, they are no shirkers. And they proved as much by winning the second half — 8.8 to 2.8 — while sending ripples of anxiety through unbeaten North.
Starting with gun on-ballers Todd Goldstein, Ben Cunnington and Brent Harvey on the bench, the Kangaroos swiftly asserted its superiority after a sluggish start.
Opting for a tall forward line — Drew Petrie, Ben Brown, Jarrad Waite and Majak Daw (after starting in the ruck) — North’s hopes of building percentage were initially foiled by Essendon’s smothering defence.
But once the Kangas hit full stride, the Bombers appeared to have no solution to North’s onslaught — until impressive Orazio Fantasia broke the drought early in the third term.
His goal marked the start of an excellent revival as Essendon’s mix of cast-offs and inexperienced talent combined to upstage the league leaders.
Brendon Goddard, James Kelly and Adam Cooney delivered the poise, while Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, Mark Baguley, Craig Bird and Darcy Parish were among a host of younger players to add signifcant dash. BEST UMPIRES CROWD