Essendon v North Melbourne

Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Drew Petrie has been in great form for the Kangaroos. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Essendon  and North Melbourne  go into their clash at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon with completely different form lines but the same objective – get the four points and move within touching distance of the finals.

While the Bombers have lost four of their past five matches, they will be buoyed ahead of this match by the return of several big name players, including Dustin Fletcher, Angus Monfries and Stewart Crameri. The Kangaroos have won seven of their past eight to move into the top eight and are ahead of Essendon on percentage. Another victory here would leave them on the brink of a first finals appearance since 2008.

Where It Will be Won – For the first time in 2012, Essendon coach James Hird has Stewart Crameri, Michael Hurley and Scott Gumbleton available for selection in the same team. The three big men are sure to cause plenty of problems up front, but North have a real weapon of their own in the forward line. Drew Petrie has kicked 23 goals in his past four matches and the Bombers defence will have to be at the top of their game to limit his output.

Prediction – The Kangaroos have had the wood over Essendon recently, winning eight of the last eleven games between the sides but went down by two points in the thriller on the opening weekend of the season. Every indication is that this clash will be equally as close but the Kangaroos can edge it, being the team going in to it full of confidence given their recent form. North Melbourne 1-39

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