DESPITE not playing its best footy against North Melbourne, Essendon is into the top eight for now, but coach Ben Rutten says consistency will be key going forward.

The Bombers struggled to kick themselves into gear as the Kangaroos controlled the first half, but rocketed home on the back of four goals from Jake Stringer.

07:49 Mins
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Highlights: North Melbourne v Essendon

The Kangaroos and Bombers clash in round 18

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"The first quarter, first half, our pressure was down, we were a bit stand-offish, and North were able to pick their way through a little too often," Rutten said.

"We didn't really put it on [our leaders], but they certainly wanted to respond after that first half. For whatever reason – the conditions, the week we've had – the guys acknowledged that, put their hand up and were keen to do something about it.

"It's (top eight) good reward for some of the effort we've been putting in across the whole season. We were a fair bit off our best footy today and our challenge – and I've been talking about it for a few weeks – is to bridge that gap in our consistency, and that's what we're going to need to do."

08:49 Mins
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Rutten: 'We were a fair bit off our best footy today'

Watch Essendon's press conference after round 18's match against North Melbourne

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Injured vice-captain Andy McGrath is quarantining after being caught up in an exposure site, and the club is eager to keep him involved.

"It's just the way life is at the moment. Andy has been in quarantine for a couple of days now, I think the boys FaceTimed him for the song, so we're doing our best to keep those guys engaged," Rutten said.

"They're really important people at our footy club and we want to support them as best we can and it’s a difficult situation in Australia for everyone who's in lockdown at the moment, we've just got a couple of many who are in lockdown and trying to work their way through it."

North Melbourne coach David Noble said the biggest positive out of the loss was the work of the club's young midfield without Ben Cunnington, who opted to stay at home for family reasons.

"Our young midfield group – (Charlie) Lazzaro, (Will) Phillips, I still think (Jy) Simpkin's in that young group even though he was the elder statesman today, Tarryn Thomas, we had Curtis Taylor in there for a little bit – their ability to battle with some hard warriors in (Darcy) Parish and (Zach) Merrett I thought was really encouraging," Noble said.

KANGAROOS v BOMBERS Full match coverage and stats

"We had the young guys try to run with Parish for a little bit, we had Jy on Merrett from time to time, so we were trying to keep them under control.

"Their run, we got exposed in the corridor a little too much, but I was probably pleased with how our young midfield stuck to the task."

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Noble: 'We got exposed in the corridor a little too much'

Watch North Melbourne's press conference after round 18's match against Essendon

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Noble was hopeful Jack Mahony's AC joint injury was on the minor side after he was subbed out in the fourth quarter, and said Cam Zurhaar is battling his own minor shoulder concern.

With games against GWS and Sydney on the horizon, the Bombers will stay in Queensland for now, while North Melbourne will return to Melbourne on Sunday night.