North Melbourne took home the chocolates against the Baby Bombers this round by 25 points, but how was the game really played? The numbers suggest that as per the usual story this year, Essendon was very competitive - except in front of the sticks.
Final scores were North Melbourne 14 goals 9 behinds for 93 points to Essendon's 9 goals 14 behinds 68 points. The key right here is the impact the scoring accuracy has on the result. Both sides had 23 scoring shots but North Melbourne scored at 61% accuracy to Essendon's 39%. This was the deal breaker right there. This is further shown to be the root cause of the loss when you consider the inside 50 efficiency where North Melbourne scored 23 times from 53 entries (43%) to Essendon's 23 shots from 51 entries (45%).
A further breakdown shows a very interesting statistic as well. Essendon was comfortably beaten in the hit-outs 58 to 20 with young McKernan struggling against one of the best ruckmen in the AFL, Todd Goldstein. This naturally equated to another thrashing in the clearances, 43 to 28 but interestingly enough the Bombers only took it into their forward 50 2 times less for 1 less mark (11 to 10).
Possession counts were close, North Melbourne taking slight honours with 15 more disposals, 13 more contested possessions with the ball movement ratio being at 45% handballs to North Melbourne and 46% to Essendon. The slightly higher kick ratio suggests that both sides were moving the ball quickly.
So when all the numbers are stacked, Essendon's flaws still lie in their errant shots at goal. Cale Hooker while showing plenty of promise as a makeshift forward booted 1 goal 4 while Joe Daniher was serviceable with 2 goals and 2 behinds.
These are all positives for Essendon who clearly have two areas to improve before becoming truly competitive, those being their clearance work and forward structure. Given the very well covered long list of absences, this young side clearly has a very healthy future ahead of them.
Thoughts? Leave them in the comments below.