PHOTOS: North Ballarat Roosters v Essendon in VFL

A lacklustre opening half sent North Ballarat Roosters into tough catch-up play at Windy Hill on Saturday.

They fell 14 points short.

The Selkirk Roosters marginally outscored Essendon in the second half of the Victorian Football League match, and had the chance to pull within two points of the Bombers when Rooster Chris Giampaolo was pulled up for running too far - just as he unleashed a strong kick that sailed through the goals.

Post-match in the rooms, Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald was quick to draw on the positives of the second half, particularly a dominant tackle count and defensive pressure, before players broke into line reviews.

The Roosters lacked aggression, power and forward drive in the opening half, allowing the Bombers to take a 19-point buffer into half-time - the Bombers' early inaccuracy before goals, flattered the Roosters' deficit.

Roosters defenders Oli Tate (24 disposals, 10 marks, six tackles) and Liam Hoy (23 disposals) patrolled relentlessly and impressively alongside Tony Lockyer, in his first fully-fledged senior game.

Midfielder Nick Peters (24 disposals, 12 tackles) and onballer Nick Rippon (25 disposals with 90 per cent kicking efficiency) won the ball and applied plenty of pressure.

But the Roosters struggled to cleanly penetrate the forward line.

Orazio Fantasia booted 4.1 from 17 touches and Alistair Kefford booted three majors.

The Roosters biggest headache came from a player the club knows all too well. Former Rebels captain Nick O'Brien chalked up 28 touches.

The Roosters return home for the first time this season to host Sandringham next Saturday.