Essendon VFL has returned to the winners list with a convincing 51-point victory over North Melbourne at Windy Hill on Sunday afternoon.

Held up by a dominant performance in the ruck from Nick Bryan (39 hit-outs, 25 disposals, 15 clearances and two goals), the Bombers got an early jump on the Kangaroos in wet conditions and led right from the opening minutes to cruise to a big win.

Midfielder Jared Eckersley got forward to boot two goals in the opening term, establishing a buffer for a Bombers side that were firing on all cylinders early – skipper Xavier O’Neill produced a season-best outing with 27 touches and led from the front.

The move of Campbell Gray to the forward line has been working well for the Bombers and Sunday was no exception – another two-goal display provided welcome assistance for Nate Caddy, who also finished with a couple of majors.

With Gray up front, the defensive trio of Sam Weideman, Zach Reid and Lewis Hayes caused headaches for North’s tall forwards – Reid’s 20 touches and 10 marks another welcome step forward in his return from a hamstring injury.

Having lapsed in third quarters throughout the season, the Bombers replied with a bang this week, booting four goals unanswered to effectively take the contest away from the Roos, with a Bailey Scott running goal capping a big five-minute burst from the side.

The pressure of Jack Peris was again prominent for the Bombers in dewy conditions, laying 11 tackles to go with 20 disposals and continuing his positive run of form in the past month.

Jackson Hately thrived in the wet weather, booting two goals from 26 disposals in another stellar outing for the midfielder this season.

The Kangaroos looked to press with three quick goals to start the last term, but Essendon quickly readjusted to reply at the other end and ice the game.

A first club goal from Alex Molan and a major for Solomon McKay finished the day in strong fashion for the Dons, who continually restricted North’s surges forward in their best four-quarter effort of 2024 to date.

The return of Jordan Ridley from a quad injury provided neat reassurance behind the ball for the Dons, the defender tallying 19 disposals in the first half and looking comfortable rebounding out of the back half.

As planned, Ridley was rested after the main change as he builds his playing minutes in the weeks to come.

The Bombers take on Richmond next Saturday in a VFL curtain raiser to Dreamtime at the ‘G, beginning at 2:35pm AEST.

ESSENDON     4.1     8.3     12.7    15.9   (99)
NORTH MELBOURNE      0.5     2.8     2.11     6.12  (48)

Hately 2, Gray 2, Eckersley 2, Caddy 2, Bryan 2, Visentini, Scott, Nyko, Molan, McKay

Bryan, Hately, O'Neill, Peris, Scott, Reid