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Last time we met North

BTV: Last time we met | North Melbourne Watch our highlights from the last time we met North Melbourne in round 15, 2018.

The last time Essendon met North Melbourne saw the two teams play out an absolute classic in arguably the most entertaining game of the 2018 season.

The two teams had plenty to play for in round 15 as they eyed off a finals berth and the anticipated clash certainly lived up to the hype.

The game began with a ferocious tempo, immediately gripping the 45,580 fans who had piled into Marvel Stadium.

Gun Bomber Orazio Fantasia booted the first goal of the game six minutes into the contest and 12 more – including another two from Fantasia – quickly followed before the end of the incredible quarter.

The goals continued to flow in the second term as the Bombers gained the ascendency, led by a sensational performance from key forward Shaun McKernan who booted three of his own in just the first 10 minutes of the quarter.

The Dons took a handy 20-point lead into the main change, with the blistering 148-point first half closing out as the league’s highest-scoring opening half since 2009.

A pair of quick red and black goals – making it seven on the trot for the side – blew the margin out to 32 points early into the premiership quarter, but it seemed to kick the Kangaroos back into gear.

North Melbourne hit back with three goals in a row, setting up the final quarter brilliantly and keeping the fans on the edge of their seat.

The shootout had been littered with highlights, but perhaps the defining moment of the game was defender Adam Saad’s burning off a number of opponents with a thrilling run out of defence early in the final term.

While it didn’t directly lead to a goal, his six-bounce dash was a terrific representation of Essendon’s slick and exciting ball movement throughout the game and much of the season.

The Bombers would prove too strong from thereon, with powerful forward Jake Stringer running down the clock late in the game, much to the ire of the North fans in the stands, and sealing the match with his third goal. 

Red and black football doesn’t get much more exciting than the club’s eventual 17-point victory, where picking the best players was an incredibly difficult task.

The umpires handed Brownlow Medal votes in order to skipper Dyson Heppell (34 disposals, 12 contested possessions and 10 inside 50s), McKernan (four goals and seven marks) and on-baller Zach Merrett (32 disposals, 12 clearances and two goal assists), but several other Dons could have been rewarded.

The strong team performance across the board was clear on the stats sheet, with Essendon leading the way for disposals (401 to 360), clearances (41 to 33), inside 50s (61 to 55), contested possessions (144 to 137) and tackles (68 to 55).

While John Worsfold and his coaching staff would clearly love to tighten up the hinges and restrict the Kangaroos’ scoring more effectively when the teams return to the field on Friday, recapturing the Bomber’s scintillating game from last year would take them a long way towards another victory.