North Melbourne players look dejected after a loss during round 10, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

NORTH Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson has bemoaned his side's lack of composure in its 40-point loss to Essendon on Sunday afternoon.

Although able to duke it out with the Bombers for three quarters, in the third term the Roos conceded eight goals and kicked just two of their own, which ultimately decided the game.

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"Essendon was just so much better than us today at being able to just get composed when they needed to," Clarkson said post-match.

"I thought that was the difference in the two sides over the course of the game. We were really, really competitive obviously, but disappointed that the game got away from us in that third quarter."


That polish that Essendon was able to find allowed it to take 18 marks inside 50 compared to North's nine, while Clarkson described the contested mark count of 14-2, Essendon's way, as "a smashing".

"The passages of ball movement ended up so often in an Essendon mark and composure… that was the difference in the sides I thought. That they were able to get those composed marks inside 50 and control the game just a little bit more than what we were.

"When the avalanche happened in the third quarter, we just couldn't stop that part of the game in particular."


Clarkson hoped fans would see some green shoots in the Roos' otherwise lacklustre year, pointing to key defender Wil Dawson's debut and first-year player Zane Duursma as positives.

"As long as our fans are seeing our boys are having a go and there's some progress there," Clarkson said.

"We hate losing games of footy but we know it's just part of the journey for us at the current time.

"We'll just keep chipping away and hopefully both the players and our fans are the same in terms of just seeing little things along the way.

"You think it might be tough being winless at this point of the year but we've got another 13 games and that's just great for our footy club that these players get exposure to this level of footy and how they can get better.

"(It will help them) understand the standard they need to get to to be competitive in this league."


One area that the Roos were able to excel was at the contest, winning the clearance count 42-28, something few sides have achieved against Essendon this year, but unable to turn that into consistent scoring opportunities throughout the game.

That midfield battle was something Essendon coach Brad Scott was prepared for, citing "some grief" around stoppages early.

"We got pretty much what we expected," Scott said.

"We've got a lot of time for the midfield. If you look at (Tom) Powell, (George) Wardlaw, (Luke) Davies-Uniacke. We started (Archie) Perkins, (Ben) Hobbs, (Jye) Caldwell. It was always going to be a tough battle, and our guys were certainly up for that."


It was a midfield battle the Bombers had to fight without Darcy Parish, who was a late withdrawal from the side with a calf concern.

Scott confirmed that the depth the Bombers have created in recent times, particularly in terms of their midfield group, made the decision to take Parish out of the side.

"Even if he could play, and even if he could get through and not get injured, is he going to play his best?" he said of Parish.

"But the decision for me was really easy, particularly when, I'll be honest, Elijah Tsatas is there. You know, we've been trying to get him into the team for a while."


After falling ill during the week, Scott also took the opportunity to sub Harrison Jones out of the game at three-quarter time, while also suggesting that he may have shared his illness with an absent Nik Cox.

"Jones just had an illness during the week. Not sure whether he gave it to 'Coxy' as well, but 'Jonesy' got his timing right, 'Coxy' didn't. But, no, 'Coxy' will be fine, assuming that it's as minor as we think. And Parish, we don't know," Scott said.

Sam Durham was also rested on the bench throughout the last quarter, after playing a physical brand of football all year, including some heavy knocks against the Kangaroos.

North Melbourne defender Miller Bergman also spent the final quarter on the bench nursing an injured hamstring, which will be scanned and graded in the coming days.