AFTER springing a selection stunner, Essendon has scorched a hapless North Melbourne to claim Good Friday AFL honours with a 58-point thrashing at Marvel Stadium.
Boom recruit Dylan Shiel led a dominant Essendon midfield as the Bombers prevailed 17.14 (116) to 7.16 (58) to post their third straight win and put the blowtorch on the Kangaroos.
Any doubts that Essendon has its season well and truly back on track were put to bed in the second quarter when the irresistible Dons piled on five goals in 10 minutes.
The Bombers led by six goals at halftime and extended their lead to 60 points midway through the third term.
Shiel (36 disposals, 10 inside-50s, five score assists), Zach Merrett (39 touches) and Dyson Heppell (32 disposals) had their way against a sluggish Kangaroos midfield, while Orazio Fantasia (four goals) was dynamic up forward.
Joe Daniher booted two majors in his AFL comeback after being named as a shock late replacement for Zac Clarke (calf).
Tough questions are bound to be asked of North Melbourne and 10th-year coach Brad Scott after another insipid performance left the Kangaroos at 1-4.
Essendon’s scintillating speed and damaging ball movement was accentuated by a Kangaroos side that too often looked lethargic and unwilling to take the game on.
Skipper Jack Ziebell was among the Roos’ worst culprits, gathering just six disposals.
Arguably the greatest drama came before the opening bounce when the Bombers confirmed Daniher’s inclusion, reversing their initial plan to bring him back through the VFL.
The AFL confirmed Essendon will be fined – potentially as much as $20,000 – because Daniher wasn’t in the Bombers’ 22 or one of four emergencies listed for the match.
Playing in his first game since round seven last season after overcoming groin and calf injuries, Daniher looked rusty at times but had Essendon fans on their feet when he unloaded a stunning set shot from 60m out in the final term.
The Bombers lined up without either of David Zaharakis (knee) or Devon Smith (managed) but will be hopeful of welcoming them back for the Anzac Day clash with Collingwood.
© AAP 2019
ESSENDON 3.4 9.7 13.11 17.14 (116)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.6 3.7 4.12 7.16 (58)
Goals: Essendon: O Fantasia 4 M Brown 3 A McDonald-Tipungwuti 2 A McGrath 2 J Daniher 2 J Stringer 2 B Ham P Ambrose. North Melbourne: B Brown 2 B Cunnington C Zurhaar J Pittard J Polec P Ahern.
Best: Essendon: D Shiel Z Merrett D Heppell M Hurley O Fantasia A Saad. North Melbourne: T Dumont J MacMillan J Pittard S Higgins.
Umpires: Simon Meredith, Robert Findlay, Sam Hay.
Official Crowd: 48,278 at Marvel Stadium.