The news was as bad for North with McDonald suffering a fractured fibula low down near the ankle late in the match.
‘‘It does not look good for the rest of the year,’’ North coach Rhyce Shaw said.
Forward Nick Larkey also came off the ground suffering heart palpitations and was monitored by doctors. Shaw said it had happened several times this year for the forward but he was closely monitored by doctors and was in a different situations to St Kilda defender Dylan Roberton whose year ended in the pre-season due to a heart problem.
Mason Wood was a late withdrawal with a quad injury and was replaced by Nathan Hrovat.
For the third week in a row Essendon surged in the last quarter to claim victory with this win lifting them into the eight.
‘‘Overall I thought when the game was really up for grabs we got on top and got the ball inside 50 more, peppered the goals and missed some opportunities to have a bigger lead at half-time, or have a lead maybe. That second and third quarter we were well on top,’’ Worsfold said.
‘‘It was a great tick for three quarters, in that last quarter we didn’t really stick our tackles and weren’t quite as good as we had been but for three quarters that was really what was helping us get a lead.’’
He praised Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti who booted four goals, including the match winner, and Jake Stringer, who kicked three.