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In a game of two halves it was the Kangaroos who will progress to week 2 of the finals. In the first half it was all Essendon as they dominated the clearances.
North Melbourne, on the other hand, struggled to find a target in their forward line.
In the second half, this changed.
Ben Brown made himself the target as he kicked four goals. North Melbourne also came back in the clearances.
When the game was there to be won, the leaders of North stood up. Ziebell, Petrie, Greenwood and Wells all stood up when it counted.
That won them the game in the final few minutes.
Kangaroos 14.9 (93)
Bombers 12.9 (81)
The first elimination final between the Essendon Bombers and North Melbourne Kangaroos promises to be an entertaining battle. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 7:15pm (AEST).
In elimination finals both teams have won just six matches out of the twenty two they have contested.
The Bombers have won four out of the 13 they have contested but have won three out of their last five elimination matches.
The Kangaroos, on the other hand, are two wins and seven losses and have not won an elimination final since 1985.
After today’s match though, one team will have a better record, as they progress to the 2nd week of the finals and a matchup against Geelong next week.
Today’s match will be the seventh between the two in the finals. Essendon lead the head to head 4-2.
The recent matchup between the two in final was in 2000 when Essendon won by 125 points and Matthew Lloyd and James Hird kicked seven and five goals respectively.
I’m confident today’s match won’t be like that clash and it will be a close encounter between the two Victorian teams.
The recent form of both teams has been good.
North Melbourne has won their last four matches including a big win over Adelaide in Round 22 that sealed their spot in the finals.
Essendon, on the other hand, have won 2 of their last 3 matches and played in the first draw of the season last week against Carlton.
Both teams were also able to rest key players in the final round of the competition before the finals this week.
They also haven’t faced each other since the first round of the season.
Essendon won that match by 39 points as they dominated the Kangaroos with uncontested possessions and marks.
In the last five matches though, North Melbourne lead the ledger, winning 3 of the last 5 clashes between the two.
If the Kangaroos play as they did in the first clash between these sides this year they will face a similar score line and be eliminated from the finals race.
The key to the game will be in the forward line.
North Melbourne has an abundance of talent in their forward 50.
Drew Petrie, Lindsay Thomas, Aaron Black can all kick multiple goals and take the game away from the Bombers.
Even Jack Ziebell – who kicked multiple goals against Adelaide – is a threat to the Bombers with his run and his pack marking.
Compare this to the Bombers and they have an advantage.
The Bombers have no Jake Carlisle for this match and have to rely on Tom Bellchambers, Paul Chapman and Joe Daniher to kick the goals.
They might also have to rely on Michael Hurley – who usually plays as a defender – to kick crucial goals for the Bombers.
The forward line has been the Achilles heel for the Bombers this year and they need it to be firing tonight if they are any chance of beating the Kangaroos.
If they don’t then their defence needs to be on song.
The positive for the Bombers has been their defence which is the 4th best in the competition.
Both teams have made changes for the clash with the Kangaroos making 5 changes and the Bombers making two.
It promises to be a close match with both teams giving their all to make it to the second week of the finals.
The North Melbourne forward line looks too strong for the Bombers and I see them winning in a close and tight contest.
Prediction: North by 5 points.