Essendon remain among a cluster of sides pushing for a top four position after holding out North Ballarat at Windy Hill in round fourteen of Peter Jackson VFL. The Bombers were in control early and with much talked about ruckman, Jonathon Giles, dominating around the ground and Kyle Hardingham, four goals, a focus up forward, the home side were able to keep the Roosters at arm’s length winning 15.5.95 to 11.7.73.
The game stopped briefly in the first quarter when Rooster's captain, Myles Sewell, asked umpires for a head count (above), believing the Bombers had an extra man on the field during a blood-rule change involving ruckman Giles. Umpires quickly gathered both sides in the middle of the ground and conducted the count before awarding Essendon a free kick against the Roosters for requesting the count.
It was the second time in three years North Ballarat have been involved in a player count, in 2013 they requested a count against Frankston down at Frankston Oval where the Dolphins lost all their points in the match, up until the time of the count.Hardingham subsequently goaled from the resulting free as the Bombers jumped the Roosters kicking seven goals to one in the first quarter to set up their win.
The solidly built Jacob Thompson provided an ally for Hardingham up forward kicking three goals to help extend the Bombers lead to 49 points by half-time.The match appeared destined for a blow out however the Roosters came out fighting in the second half.
Robin Nahas booted two third quarter goals while out-of-favour forward, LindsayThomas, and Andrew Hooper, also found the scoreboard. The Roosters kicked five goals to two for the term and reduced the deficit to 31 points at the final change.
Tony Lockyer and Joel Tippett tightened up in defence for the Roosters and skipper Sewell, Nick Rippon and Luke Kiel got their hands on the footy creating chances for their forwards upfield.Defender Kiel, who was shifted forward in the final term, booted his second last quarter goal at the 16- minute mark, to get the margin back to 24 points, however, Thompson goaled to steady the ship for the Bombers, the difference 22 points at the final siren.
Bigman Giles was best on ground with 22 disposals, five marks and his two goals to stake a claim for an AFL recall while Hardingham (16 disposals) and four goals impressed, as did James Polkinghorne and Jordan Schroder. For the Roosters, Sewell (25) tried hard around the middle, Tippett (25) and Lockyer (24) battled manfully in defence and Thomas (12) with two goals and Nahas (15) with nine tackles and three goals did well with limited opportunities.
Essendon's fight for a top four spot continues in round 15 away to Geelong while North Ballarat now play three in-a-row at home starting with the winless Frankston and will be looking to finish their final year under coach Gerard Fitzgerald off in strong fashion.
For full scoreboard click here