The first Saturday afternoon meeting between Richmond and Essendon – two traditionally big clubs – in eight years did not exactly live up to expectation, though that really depends on what you were expecting. A few of the Tiger faithful before the opening bounce were nervous and no doubt the stoic Bombers’ fans believed they could get a scalp on their rival. It wasn’t to be though, with Sandy Roberts saying post-match on Fox Footy; that the 19-point win to the Tigers was their sixth consecutive over the Bombers.
Richmond got jumped by Essendon early in the game as the Bombers capitalised on the Tigers’ mistakes. They looked like they had come to play whilst Richmond were slow off the mark. The Dons would kick the first three goals of the game inside seven minutes. Meanwhile, it took Richmond five minutes to register its first inside-50 and 17 minutes for the unlikely Shaun Hampson to snap the Tigers’ first goal. It proved the catalyst for a Tigers assault that saw them slam on six unanswered goals, but the lead could have been so much more if it wasn’t for skill errors, poor decision-making and over-possession plaguing their game again.
Essendon were not going to hand Richmond this game on a silver platter – they stayed with the Tigers throughout. Richmond led by 16 points halfway through the second quarter, but Essendon still had a lot to say. They still did when Richmond led by 15 points halfway through the third term and again when the Tigers surged to lead by 20 points at the 20 minute mark of the same quarter. It took the Tigers until the 20 minute mark of the last quarter to finally shake off their traditional rival and in many ways, Richmond was fortunate to come away with the victory.
This becomes all too clear when you consider that the Dons enjoyed more inside-50s (53-46) and more scoring shots (28 to 22), where they fell short was in the talent stakes; but not by much. This apparent lack of talent went a long way to nullify the true penetration and efficiency of the likes of Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin on the game. Martin may have managed to break the tag of Bomber Craig Bird to amass a career-high 43 possessions, with 22 of these being contested; but his disposal efficiency was just 51%. He did however, according to Sandy Roberts once more, break Kevin Bartlett’s 1974 record of 34 kicks with a total of 35 recorded. It was also a day for key forward Ben Griffiths to show what he is capable of – a career-high 12 marks and three goals.
Richmond next faces Hawthorn for the second time this season next Sunday afternoon. Their last meeting saw the Tigers fight valiantly and they will be looking to do the same again as they continue to finish off the year as strongly as possible.
Final Score: RICH 16.6.102 to ESS 11.17.83.
TOP 3 TIGERS:
1. DUSTIN MARTIN: One of Richmond’s most influential players. He finished with a career-high 43 disposals (13 in the first quarter and 14 in the third quarter), six marks, 14 clearances, four tackles, 12 pressure acts, eight score involvements and two goals.
2. TRENT COTCHIN: Another of Richmond’s most influential players. He finished with 35 disposals (18 contested and 14 in the first quarter), seven intercepts, three marks, six clearances, five tackles, 14 pressure acts and six score involvements.
3. BEN GRIFFITHS: The key forward had a standout game at exactly the right time. He finished with 18 disposals (10 contested and eight uncontested), a career-high 12 marks, four tackles, 11 pressure acts, eight score involvements and three goals.
What were your thoughts on the game?