Essendon have moved into the top eight after a come-from-behind win to defeat the Northern Blues by eight points at Preston City Oval in round six of Peter Jackson VFL. The Blues led by 25 points at half-time but a seven goal to two last half enabled the Bombers to overtake the Blues winning 11.10.76 to 9.14.68.
Former Adelaide Crow Shaun McKernan with 20 disposals including seven clearances and two goals was instrumental in the Bomber’s win along with defender James Gwilt, who nullified Northern’s Matthew Watson for the majority of the game. Gwilt received good support from Ariel Steinberg and the improving Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti who had the job of minding the Blue's small forwards.
For the Northern Blues, the consistent Nick Graham again put his hand up for an AFL re-call with 23 disposals while AFL rookie Brad Walsh (19 disposals) and Blaine Johnson with two goals worked hard as did Kieran McGuiness down back with 23 touches . The loss for Blues frustrating for coach Luke Webster after a good first half in which his side were on top but have now lost three of the first six games by under ten points. Played in cool conditions it was a scrappy affair early on.
The Bombers, kicking with the aid of a slight breeze favouring the Preston markets end, began slowly allowing the home side to boot the first two goals of the game thanks to Tom Wilson and Joel Wilkinson. Essendon coach, Hayden Skipworth, asked his players to make their opponents accountable at quarter-time with his side down by a point. The Blues were running forward in numbers and Skipworth needed his charges to man up and force their opponents into a battle.
The Blues continued their run forward in the second term booting four goals to the Bombers one to have all the momentum at half-time leading 7.9.51 to 4.2.26. The game changed in the third term however when the Bombers made their opponents accountable, restricting the Blues to just the solitary behind for the quarter.
When Kyle Hardingham was left un-attended to goal midway through the quarter the Blues lead had been cut back to just four points. Top draft pick Kyle Langford goaled in the first minute of the final quarter to put the Bombers in front and then shortly after Sam Heavyside marked and goaled to give Essendon some breathing space. It was short lived however as Johnson and then David Ellard responded to put the Blues back in front approaching time-on.
Former GWS Giant Jonathan Giles rose to the occasion to mark and goal giving the Bombers the lead before McKernan found Langford who kicked truly for his second and clinch the win for Essendon. The Bombers will be looking for back-to-back victories for the first time this year when they play Richmond away in round seven while the Northern Blues face a tough away encounter with the Box Hill Hawks as they try to stay in touch with the top eight.
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