Essendon has survived a furious North Melbourne fightback and snatched victory inside the last 30 seconds to strengthen its chances of playing finals.

An accurate Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti snap – for his fourth goal of the night – ensured the Bombers claimed their fifth win in six starts, by a 12.14 (86) to 12.9 (81) scoreline.

Everything pointed to a comfortable Essendon victory when the final term began, with John Worsfold's men 18 points up, well on top in the clearances and with 19 extra inside-50s to three-quarter time.

Instead, the Kangaroos launched an extraordinary rearguard action, inspired by spearhead Ben Brown, who was a problem all game despite an inside-50 famine for three quarters.

Brown, now opposed to Cale Hooker, kicked two of his goals in the last term – the second of them putting North two points up – and finished with 18 disposals and 12 marks, including six contested.

What helped was the Roos' midfield finally sprung to life, most prominently Jy Simpkin (18 disposals, eight clearances), who had until then failed to back up his blistering previous fortnight.

North Melbourne had 10 of the first 11 inside 50s of the term and 17-9 overall, and its manic pressure ensured the Sherrin rarely left its forward half.

If anything, the Kangas probably didn't capitalise quite enough before the Bombers steadied ahead of their late and desperate surge that resulted in McDonald-Tipungwuti's match-winner.

Three of North's six first-term goals came from rugged forward Cam Zurhaar, who was also responsible for the bump that ended Michael Hurley's (collarbone) night early in the second half.

That wasn't the sole sign of the Roos' now renowned aggression under caretaker coach Rhyce Shaw.

Jed Anderson sent Andy McGrath briefly from the field with a heavy hit in the opening quarter, while fine-magnet Ben Cunnington wound up to knock the Sherrin from Zach Merrett's arms and gave away a free kick.

Far from intimidated, Essendon absorbed North's physicality – and gave it back.

Anderson lined up Mason Redman on another occasion, but it was Redman who kept his feet and won the ball soon after.


Essendon: Michael Hurley came from the field early in the third term with a left shoulder/collarbone issue – after copping a heavy hit from Cam Zurhaar – and did not return. Jed Anderson collected Andy McGrath late in the first quarter, leaving the 2017 NAB AFL Rising Star to stagger to the bench. McGrath briefly went to the rooms but was back by the second term.

North Melbourne: Nick Larkey went from the ground in the last quarter. Mason Wood was a late withdrawal, replaced by Nathan Hrovat, after failing to sufficiently recover from the quad injury he sustained in last week's victory over St Kilda.


Essendon has given itself a decent platform to make the finals, but a date with the Crows at Adelaide Oval on Friday night will be a test. North Melbourne has a tough match to try to return to the winner's circle, travelling north to take on Brisbane.