Stringer fires Dons to victory

Stringer fires Dons to victory

JAKE Stringer has kicked five goals to help Essendon claim another scalp in its strong finish to the AFL season with a 48-point win over North Melbourne.

The Bombers posted their highest score of the year in the 17.12 (114) to 9.12 (66) victory at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, making it five wins from their past seven games.

Stringer was in everything early, igniting Essendon with three first-quarter goals.

And though his scoreboard impact cooled through the middle stages, his influence on the match was telling.

The man dubbed ‘The Package’ finished with 14 disposals, six tackles and a game-high 11 score involvements.

Stringer kicked 5.3 – just one goal shy of a career-best tally – including two majors from four shots in the final term.

North Melbourne dominated clearances (42-22) and had more inside-50s than their opponents in the first three quarters but was far less efficient going forward.

Cam Zurhaar was a threat in attack for the Kangaroos, finishing with four goals, but spearhead Nick Larkey (0.3) struggled with poor delivery and was held goalless by Brandon Zerk-Thatcher.

Jy Simpkin (40 disposals), Jaidyn Stephenson (32) and Luke Davies-Uniacke (23) worked hard in a losing cause.

Essendon was best served by Zach Merrett (37 disposals, eight clearances), Mason Redman (32 disposals) and Nick Hind (22), while tall swing-man James Stewart played forward and kicked three goals – his first scores in two years.

Peter Wright, Kyle Langford and Harrison Jones kicked two goals each.

The only sour note for the Bombers was Jye Caldwell’s calf injury.

Already hit hard by COVID-19, North Melbourne lost Lachie Young and Jack Mahony as late withdrawals before the bounce.

The pair joined teammates Aidan Corr, Paul Curtis and Aaron Hall on the sidelines through virus protocols.

Essendon also suffered a late blow when Dylan Shiel was ruled out with a hamstring issue.

Stringer’s big day began with six disposals, three tackles and three goals in the first quarter.

He would have had a fourth major for the term if a quick snap had not brushed a North defender’s finger on the goal line – a fact confirmed by one of three score reviews before quarter-time.

The Bombers led by 15 points at quarter-time, doubled the advantage during the second term and stayed in control on the scoreboard throughout the second half.

(C) AAP 2022