Richmond stretched their winning streak over Essendon to 12 as they recorded their eighth consecutive Dreamtime win against a determined but ill-equipped opposition, who remain anchored near the bottom of the ladder after losing by 32 points.
The win, however, did not come for free, with Tom Lynch suffering a left hamstring injury and Kane Lambert subbed out with a sore hip, having battled a problem in that area all season.
The Bombers came out with intent, laying 20 tackles in the first quarter, an indication that the warranted criticism they received for their insipid performance against Sydney had stung.
Essendon’s Andy McGrath remonstrates with Tom Lynch.Credit:AFL Photos
But they were simply not good enough to match the Tigers once they settled into their game, with Richmond reeling off five unanswered goals after Essendon’s Mason Redman missed a set shot that resulted from a brilliant tackle on Shai Bolton and a subsequent 50-metre penalty.
Jack Riewoldt kick-started Richmond, handing Shane Edwards the first goal of the game after taking a mark inside 50 before he kicked his own from another mark close to goal. The veteran is having an outstanding season as he pushes his way past some of the game’s greats inside the top 20 goalkickers of all time.
With Lynch alongside him, the Tigers had targets whereas Essendon had none. Everything went wrong for Peter Wright, who was unable to mark the football as he has on other occasions this season. By three-quarter time Richmond had taken eight contested marks in their forward half and Essendon had kicked none.
If Riewoldt or Lynch didn’t mark, then ground level players Jason Castagna, Dustin Martin and Maurice Rioli Jr were dangerous.
Maurice Rioli in action during round 10. Credit:Getty Images
Rioli Jr kicked his first and second Dreamtime goals in the second quarter, with his presence around the ball lifting the crowd in the way retired small forward Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti did during his 126-game career with Essendon.
Rioli Jr is skilful enough to sneak through small gaps when he has the ball. When opposition defenders win ground balls, they know he is lurking which forces them to rush their disposal. He will improve Richmond which is a worry for the rest of the competition as the Tigers have now strung four wins on the trot.
Essendon won’t worry too many opponents this season as they aren’t good enough.
Essendon, on the other hand, won’t worry too many opponents this season as they aren’t good enough.
Opponents can too easily run the ball from deep into defence into their attack while the Bombers only looked like generating scores when they took the game on at half-back and moved the ball quickly. Their midfield group still gather disposals that don’t hurt the opposition much although with young players on every line they have not enough talent around them.
At least they responded to the criticism with Andy McGrath taking the opportunity to fly the flag and confront Lynch when he cannoned into the back of his teammate Matt Guelfi.
It was genuine from McGrath but the lack of Essendon players with a physical presence is obvious, particularly in colours once renowned for ruthlessness. Even when Redman tried to remind his opponent he was around, he was reported for elbowing Dion Prestia.
The game descended into a push and shove match about as productive as an argument on the Jerry Springer show.
The Bombers stayed in touch with the first two goals of the third quarter as the game descended into a push and shove match about as productive as an argument on the Jerry Springer show.
They hung in there as the Tigers blew chances to push the lead beyond reach with Lynch the main culprit kicking four behinds before three quarter-time. It was up to Riewoldt, in his 313th game – now second to Kevin Bartlett on the Tigers’ games list after passing Jack Dyer – to steady the ship when the Bombers drew within three goals.
His poise was handy as the Tigers were down to three men on the bench, but Robbie Tarrant stood tall when the Bombers challenged with two key defensive marks. Eventually, the Tigers ran the ball down the outer wing for Bolton to seal the match with his second goal. Liam Baker, Daniel Rioli and Prestia were outstanding.
Jack Riewoldt attempts to mark the ball.Credit:Getty Images
Richmond’s 50-metre habit
The Tigers’ lack of discipline has bitten them before, but they keep on conceding more 50m penalties than any other team. Admittedly, it’s not hard to give away a 50m penalty nowadays, but there were few excuses for the six Richmond conceded against Essendon. At one stage, Bolton just placed the ball at his feet rather than giving it back to his opponent. That’s easy to fix if they are prepared to do so.
Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Bolton 2, Maurice Rioli Jr 2, Edwards, Castagna, Soldo.
Essendon: Hobbs 2, Francis, Perkins, Shiel, Bryan, Waterman.
Richmond: Bolton, Baker, Daniel Rioli, Prestia, Vlastuin, Nankervis, Riewoldt.
Essendon: Parish, Redman, McGrath.
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