By Cristian Filippo (@C_Filippo23)
An undermanned Northern Blues were overrun by Essendon at Ikon Park earlier this afternoon.
Down to only one player on the bench from the second term, the Blues took the fight to Essendon until the final quarter before eventually going down 8. 7. (55) to 19. 14. (128).
Four injuries in the initial stages against the red-hot Bombers made it an unenviable task for the home side, who were well and truly in the contest for the first three quarters.
After the away side kicked out to an early lead with four of the first five goals, Carlton youngster Tom De Koning came to the party up forward for the Blues.
The draftee kicked two first-quarter goals, bringing the margin back to nine points at the opening change.
It was then when the injuries began to mount for the Blues, initially losing Tom Williamson for the rest of the day after he received a knock in the first quarter.
That was compounded by the losses of Alex Federico, Nick Graham and Harrison Macreadie in quick succession from the midway point of the second term.
As Essendon threatened to run away with the game with some late conversion, Blues forward Jesse Palmer stepped up with a late goal. It brought the margin back to an even three goals at the main break.
Palmer’s goal just before half time was the catalyst for an incredible four-goal third quarter performance from the Blues recruit.
However, Aaron Heppell bobbed up for the Bombers at the death of the quarter giving the Blues at 20-point deficit to make up in the last.
For all the Northern Blues efforts, the Bombers ran away with the contest in the final quarter as the injury-hit Blues struggled to contain their opponents with one rotation on the bench in the second half.
Northern conceded the first three goals of the term inside five minutes to make their task of pinching a result against the odds almost impossible.
Essendon ended the contest in the strongest possible fashion, nailing through another five unanswered goals to hand the Blues a 73-point defeat.
Palmer was one of the Blues’ best, adding his five goals with 16 disposals and eight marks.
After starting in the forward line, Jack Silvagni also continued his strong VFL form on the way to a 23-disposal, six-tackle performance.
Captain Tom Wilson once again led the charge for the Blues, as he finished the day with a team-high 26 possessions, while Josh Hill enjoyed his best outing so far for the club.
The Northern Blues will again return to Ikon Park next week to face Geelong from 2pm on Saturday.
NORTHERN BLUES 3.4 4.5 8.6 8. 7. (55)
ESSENDON VFL 5.1 7.5 11.8 19. 14. (128)
Northern Blues: Palmer 5, De Koning 2, Phillips
Northern Blues: Silvagni, Palmer, Hill, De Koning, Phillips, McCabe