A narrow defeat to Essendon ended the Northern Blues’ 2018. (PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Murdoch)
The Northern Blues have ended their season with a heartbreaking 13-point loss to finals-bound Essendon at Windy Hill today.
After a tight first half, both sides cranked up the contest to play out an enthralling second half which saw a dogged Northern outfit fall to a 12.5 (77) to 9.10 (64) result.
With Essendon needing a result to make finals, Northern’s spirit with 16 VFL-listed players was first-rate.
It was a game marked by Northern’s physicality at the contest, against Essendon’s willingness to counter and break the game open with speed.
Northern completely dominated the majority of the play in the first quarter, but found themselves trailing by 11 points at the first break after failing to capitalize on the scoreboard.
The contest turned into a stalemate during the second term.
Both sides were unable to break the shackles on the scoreboard, sharing the spoils with a goal each.
Essendon then put Northern’s steel to the test, starting the second half with two quick-fire goals to shoot away to a 23-point lead.
However, Northern’s response was swift.
Three goals in an electric five minutes football thanks to Chris McCabe, Jesse Glass-McCasker and Cameron O’Shea cut the Bombers’ lead to under a goal.
A late free kick against the flow to Essendon’s Aaron Heppell left the Blues trailing by nine points heading into what was a frenetic final term.
Paddy Kerr’s miraculous solo effort had the Blues within a kick yet again. The forwards soccered the ball fifty metres, before half-volleying a goal to bring the Blues to life.
Both sides then traded goals in a pulsating finish to the contest. Northern had some chances to take the lead if not for some narrow misses.
Unfortunately for the Blues, they were unable to quell the Bombers’ tall timber. James Stewart and Sam Draper sealed Essendon’s win with two late goals.
Defensive duo Josh Hill (19 disposals, eight marks) and Mason Blakey combined brilliantly all day down back.
Captain Tom Wilson capped off another strong year with a team-high 37 disposals and eight inside 50s, while Nick Graham collected 33 disposals.
ESSENDON VFL 3.2 4.3 8.5 12.6 (78)
NORTHERN BLUES 1.3 2.5 6.8 9.10 (64)
Northern Blues: Velissaris 2, Costanzo, Glass-McCasker, Kerr, Kingsbury, McCabe, O’Shea, Schumacher
Northern Blues: Hill, O’Shea, Wilson, Blakey, Graham, Stavrou