While Essendon cruised to a 40-point victory over North Melbourne on Sunday, one Bombers youngster was left "a bit frustrated" with his matchup against a star Kangaroo.

Dons livewire Archie Perkins was tasked with taking on ball-winning bull Luke Davies-Uniacke in what proved to be "a good learning opportunity" for the young Bomber.

The North Melbourne midfielder had arguably his best performance of 2024, booting two goals from 27 disposals, 10 contested possessions and seven clearances - following an equally promising performance against the Suns the week prior - to give the Shinboners a fighting chance in the first half against Essendon.

An honest Perkins told Zero Hanger after the club's seventh win of the season that he knew he needed to be on his game to quell Davies-Unaicke's impact, but was disappointed in being "found out a bit" with his first-half performance on the Roos gun.

Reviewing the matchup at half-time, Perkins was able to adjust his focus and rely on more of a team model in the midfield to help halt North Melbourne's engine room ensemble.

"My best probably wasn't strong enough around the ball early on in the game. When you're on a player like Luke Davies-Uniacke you can get found out a bit," Perkins told Zero Hanger. 

"He was probably beating me to the ball a bit. I think as the game went on I started to resurrect that a bit and started getting involved a bit more in the forward half.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 19: Archie Perkins of the Bombers and Luke Davies-Uniacke of the Kangaroos compete for the ball during the 2024 AFL Round 10 match between the Essendon Bombers and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Marvel Stadium on May 19, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

"It's always a good learning opportunity. I was a bit frustrated because I knew what he was going to bring and I didn't put myself in positions to be able to combat that enough in the first half, so I was a bit disappointed. I'll look at it and be better next time.

"That's what you're wrestling with the whole time when you're on a player like that, not losing sight of what makes you a good player as well.

"I probably got a bit focused on him too much, then we lost our balance around the midfield a little. But I think as a unit we started to turn that in the second half."

Perkins was one of the Bombers' best by the end of the victory, amassing 22 disposals, six tackles, 11 contested possessions and a goal to leave his impact across the front half of the field.

 2024-05-19T03:10:00Z 
Essendon WON BY 40 POINTS
Marvel Stadium
ESS   
106
FT
66
   NMFC

Joined by fellow emerging midfielders Ben Hobbs and Elijah Tsatas through the middle of the field, Essendon's young core was able to combine to give fans a glimpse into what's in store for the years to come.

Breakout Bomber Sam Durham and onballer Jye Caldwell were also key contributors in the midfield as captain Zach Merrett was kept to a season-low 21 disposals against the Roos, with the absence of Parish placing more reliance on Essendon's young crop of ball winners.

"It's really good. We're all pretty good mates, so it's good to be in there together," Perkins said of the club's young midfield contingent.

"We're really confident we can cover a player like [Parish] going out and bring somebody in. So Hobbys and Elijah today. It was good to see them around the ball.

"I think we're building every week. Each week we play together as that core unit I think we're going to see lots of improvement."

Essendon, now second on the ladder, could extend their undefeated run to six games this Saturday when they take on Richmond for the annual Dreamtime at the 'G clash.

Embed from Getty Images

Like most big stages, the occasion is one that has Perkins champing at the bit.

"It's always a big occasion for the club, Dreamtime. It's a great opportunity," Perkins said.

"All the indigenous work, what we learn and the people that come and talk to us during the week... it's a great occasion to put their culture on show at the MCG.

"It's a great game to be a part of and we're looking to keep the wins coming."

The past two weeks have seen Perkins seamlessly slot back into Brad Scott's system following a month on the sidelines due to a hamstring strain.

The 22-year-old has continued to learn how to take care of his body and remain in constant conversations with club medical staff even when feeling fit and firing.

Shaking off a corked leg following Round 10, Perkins is getting a better understanding of how he treats his body week-to-week.

"I've been dialling up in being really honest about how my body has been feeling when talking with physios and making sure I've got no little issues going into training and games. I'm getting really on top of that," he said.

"Then just having confidence in my body, I had a pretty smooth rehab and didn't have any hiccups or anything like that and it's been pretty clean since I've come back.

"So I think every week I come back I'm improving in that aspect."

 2024-05-25T09:40:00Z 
Essendon WON BY 12 POINTS
MCG
RICH   
74
FT
86
   ESS