North Melbourne pulled away in the final term to finish off a close game as 24-point winners over Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
It was a tough win for the Kangaroos in a game with huge finals implications. Key players Leigh Adams and Daniel Wells were lost in the first quarter and both could be in doubt for their must win final three games.
Boomer Harvey starred with three vital third quarter goals and was aided by the presence of Lachie Hansen and Robbie Tarrant up forward; the duo kicked three goals apiece. Sam Wright had a team-high 32 disposals while first year youngster Sam Gibson had a huge fourth quarter which included a goal and finished 26 of his own.
Both teams combined for an 11 goal first term and it would stay close throughout until the third when Harvey’s three goals in three minutes appeared to give North some leverage. A late one to Watson in the final minute reduced the lead to a respectable nine points heading into the final term, and while they got within three points, the Bombers disposal efficiency let them down badly. In the end, a four goal, seven scoring shots to two final quarter was too much for Essendon too match and the Kangaroos further solidified their chances of a post-season appearance.
Both teams went in knowing the final result would greatly reshape the top eight as the Kangaroos, Bombers and Fremantle Dockers stood separated only by percentage points with 11 wins each. North surpassed Geelong to take the sixth spot while Essendon hang on to the eighth for now, slightly above Fremantle.
Essendon have the toughest run home; they face Carlton, Richmond and Collingwood; while Fremantle and North play each other and face easy opponents in the final round 23.