TWO GOALS to Drew Petrie in the dying minutes have sent North Melbourne to the semi-finals after a pulsating win over Essendon in Saturday night's elimination final.
The Roos overturned a 33-point deficit early in the third term to win by 12 points, ending Essendon's season with the 14.9 (93) to 12.9 (81) triumph – North's first finals win since 2007.
With less than four minutes to play at the MCG, Petrie's first goal of the game came when North trailed by a point.
That pick up and snap was followed by a checkside goal a minute later, which put the Roos 11 points up. Moments on he marked on the lead and kicked a behind, the final score.
Petrie's cameo came after Essendon had led for three-and-a-half quarters and was a knockout blow for the Bombers, who have now lost their past three elimination finals.
While Petrie was the match winner, it was his sidekick, Ben Brown, who turned the game North's way.
The first-year forward, with hair sticking every which way, kicked four second-half goals (three coming in the third term) to change the course of the game.
Key forwards often win finals, but the midfield battle was also engrossing. Daniel Wells was terrific for the Roos with 28 disposals, while Ben Cunnington (30 touches) and Levi Greenwood (32) were also prolific.
Sam Wright will carry some confidence into next week's semi-final against Geelong after playing perhaps a career-best game across half-back, while Shaun Atley gave good dash when his side needed it.
"The highlight's probably the steely resolve of the players at half-time when we were clearly under the pump and not playing well and the opposition were playing well," he said post-game.
"That's the highlight, to know that there's character within the group to come back."
The Bombers will be heartbroken. After keeping the Roos to just two goals at half-time, they could sense their first finals win since 2004.
Dyson Heppell was excellent with 34 disposals, closing a brilliant season for the midfielder. And Joe Daniher kicked four goals in a coming-of-age game that saw him hold down the forward line and control it at times.
"We didn't get carried away at half-time," coach Mark Thompson said.
"But we just couldn't stay on the job and it's a bit of a tale of the year. It's a disappointing way to finish."
It was, however, a game expected to have its momentum swings, and the first quarter went to script.
Joe Daniher was on fire early and capped off a stunning performance with four goals. Picture: AFL Media
Daniher started his first final in terrific form, snapping the opening goal and having three shots in the first seven minutes of play.
Essendon, to the 20-minute mark, dominated. At that point, it led the clearances 11-2, and looked far more dangerous sweeping the ball forward.
The Bombers didn't capitalise on their early spell, though – a trend throughout their season – and North jumped into things.
It took the precision of senior Roos Wells and Nick Dal Santo's calm head to draw them within a point at quarter-time.
But that didn't last long. Essendon dominated the second term to kick four goals to none, and break open the game to lead by 27 points at the main change.
At once, the Bombers were able to play running, imaginative football whilst stopping the Roos from doing the same.
Travis Colyer's zip, combined with the forward half experience of Brendon Goddard and Paul Chapman, gave the Bombers a damaging sense of urgency.
The Roos had anything but – their entries were wide and laboured, and lacked dare. Often the get-out kick was a long bomb to Jack Ziebell, stationed deep forward for most of the first half.
North found its spark in the third term, and it came with added afro. After a Chapman snap put the Bombers a game-high 33-points up early in the quarter, Brown's three goals came in the space of seven minutes and ignited his team.
In one of the most brilliant quarters of the season, Scott's men slammed home seven goals to get the game on their terms.
But Essendon didn't withdraw from the battle, and on each of the three occasions the Roos got within three points of the Bombers, Essendon struck back with a goal.
The last came on the three-quarter time siren, when Tom Bellchambers slotted a difficult shot from the pocket to give Essendon a nine-point advantage for the final term.
But 11 minutes into the last term it was gone. 20 minutes later, so too were the Bombers. North, meanwhile, rejoiced, its season still alive.
ESSENDON 2.4 6.7 10.8 12.9 (81)
North Melbourne: Brown 4, Thomas 3, Petrie 2, Dal Santo, Greenwood, Gibson, Ziebell, Cunnington
Essendon: Daniher 4, Colyer 2, Chapman 2, Goddard, Howlett, Bellchambers, Ryder
North Melbourne: Wells, Brown, Greenwood, Gibson, Cunnington, Thompson
Essendon: Heppell, Chapman, Watson, Daniher, Colyer, Hurley
North Melbourne: Nil
North Melbourne: Ryan Bastinac replaced Ben Jacobs in the third quarter
Essendon: Courtenay Dempsey replaced Martin Gleeson in the third quarter
Reports: Levi Greenwood (North Melbourne) for rough conduct on Mark Baguley (Essendon) in the third quarter.
Umpires: Donlon, Margetts, Findlay
Official crowd: 78,559 at the MCG