Stringer fires in Dons' AFL win over North

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Ben Rutten has lauded Jake Stringer's leadership after the explosive star kicked five goals to help Essendon claim another scalp in their 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.

"I thought he was good and his impact early in the game, in particular, and his scoreboard impact was pleasing," Rutten said.

"Given (Andrew) McGrath, (Dylan) Shiel and (Darcy) Parish were out of the team, we needed (Kyle) Langford, (Zach) Merrett and Stringer - those more experienced guys - to show some real maturity and stand up for us.

"On the whole, they did that pretty well."

Rutten wasn't so pleased with the Bombers' contested ball numbers (106-119) and the fact they were dominated in clearances (22-42).

It meant the likes of Mason Redman (32 disposals) and Nick Hind (22) were called upon to repel plenty of opposition raids, while Brandon Zerk-Thatcher stood tall in limiting Kangaroos spearhead Nick Larkey's influence.

Zach Merrett (37 disposals, eight clearances) shouldered a big load in the midfield and swing-man James Stewart played forward, kicking three goals.

Peter Wright, Kyle Langford and Harrison Jones added two each.

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

Cam Zurhaar kicked four goals for North Melbourne and Jy Simpkin had a career-high 41 disposals.

Simpkin (six), Hugh Greenwood and ruckman Todd Goldstein (seven each) led the way at clearances.

The Kangaroos had almost as many forward entries as their opponents (57-51) and led the statistic and three-quarter time but were far less efficient.

"Our connection going inside-50 wasn't great," Adams said.

"The positive is we're getting more opportunities .... and the game was looking the way we want.

"But it was a combination between our fundamentals of being able to finish our work and a bit of connection forward of centre just hurt us."

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.

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