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AFL Express: Saturday 31 May

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Dyson Heppell handballs under pressure after a centre clearance
Dyson Heppell handballs under pressure after a centre clearance Photo: Pat Scala

So another interesting Saturday comes and goes and arch rivals Carlton and Richmond are almost the equal biggest stories.

The Blues will be scratching their heads as to how they let a 16-point lead midway through the final term slip to the bottom-of-the-ladder Lions who had previously only won one match for the season!

That result all but ends Carlton's finals hopes.

And then there's Richmond. What a fall from grace they have experienced since last year and their insipid effort against Essendon proves last week's big win over GWS was just paper over gaping cracks in their flimsy walls.

While the Lions were the feelgood story of the day, Melbourne were a close second as they pushed pacesetters Port Adelaide right to the wire in Alice Springs.

The ever-improving Demons incredibly hit the front in the final term, but the Power's famed late fitness and run helped them to their seventh win a row - a feat they haven't achieved since 2004.

The last of those seven wins on that occasion delivered them a premiership. An omen perhaps for 2014?

AFL analysis


ESSENDON    4.4, 9.8, 11.11, 15.14 (104)
RICHMOND    0.1, 3.5, 3.8, 7.12 (54)

Essendon: Howlett 5, Daniher 3, Z.Merrett 2, Fletcher, Chapman, Heppell, Hibberd, Bellchambers
Richmond: Riewoldt 3, Martin 2, Cotchin, S.Edwards

Essendon: Watson 36, Zaharakis 31, Goddard 30, Stanton 27
Richmond: Martin 28, Ellis 26, Cotchin 25, Houli 25

It’s taken two months, but the Bombers are back!

That was their best effort since the Round 3 mauling of Carlton and they should be proud of their four-quarter effort.

They blew the Tigers out of the water in the first quarter and never looked back from there.

But as good as Essendon were, Richmond's woeful performance will probably steal the headlines.

The Tigers were stagnant, passive, unimaginative and inhibited... and that’s putting it lightly.

Two of their quarters were goalless and the Bombers did as they pleased.

Watson, Goddard and Zaharakis roamed around freely, Hooker, Carlisle and Fletcher were rocks in defence while Howlett and Daniher combined for eight goals.

The Bombers’ pressure and intent was top notch and Richmond didn’t give a yelp all night.

Perhaps the biggest indictment on Richmond was that not only did they badly lose the disposal count (422-363) and marks (132-84) but also the tackles (65-49) despite having so much less of the ball! That is simply not good enough.

When the Bombers went forward, they created great run and had more options – a fact that was exacerbated for Richmond by the inside 50 count which Essendon won convincingly 67-40.

Unsurprisingly, the Bombers also ended up on top in clearances (34-26), centre clearances (14-7) and contested possessions (128-113).

Richmond’s best players on a very sorry night were Martin, Grigg, Cotchin and Houli.


Q4 28 MIN, ESS 104 RICH 54

Riewoldt marks it on the siren and from 50m out on a tough angle and slots home a beauty for his third final-quarter goal.


Q4 25 MIN, ESS 104 RICH 48

Ambrose chips it over to Zach Merrett who lines them up from 45m out on the boundary and kicks a beauty on the run!


Q4 24 MIN, ESS 98 RICH 48

Fletcher's tackle on Riewoldt is too high and the two-time Coleman Medal winner lines up from 30m out on a slight angle before booting his 350th career goal.

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Q4 21 MIN, ESS 98 RICH 42

Zach Merrett joins the party, he kicks his first goal with a lovely snap from 30m out.

Q4 21 MIN, ESS 92 RICH 42

Hocking is on report for a high bump on Lennon but it appeared to be a genuine attempt to win the ball.


Q4 20 MIN, ESS 92 RICH 42

Martin kicks it to Riewoldt who drops the overhead mark but Hooker had too much momentum, Riewoldt capitalised, doubled back to collect his own crumbs and kick his first goal from the goal line.

74,664 fans in attendance tonight... Fair to say a fair chunk of the yellow-and-black contingent have already departed!

AFL behind

Q4 18 MIN, ESS 92 RICH 36

Howlett dishes it off to Chapman whose checkside punt under pressure from 30m out is a point.

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Essendon also have five of the top six disposal winners: Watson (33), Goddard (26), Stanton (26), Zaharakis (25), Howlett (23).

Q4 16 MIN, ESS 91 RICH 36

Whichever way you look at it, it's been a domination. Essendon lead disposals (371-312), marks (118-79), clearances (32-23), centre clearances (12-5), inside 50s (57-36), contested possessions (112-99) and tackles (59-42).

Dark night for Richmond.

AFL behind

Q4 16 MIN, ESS 91 RICH 36

Houli's set shot from 50m out is off line

AFL behind

Q4 14 MIN, ESS 91 RICH 35

Ryder rushes a behind for Richmond.

AFL behind

Q4 13 MIN, ESS 91 RICH 34

Heppell handballs it to Hocking running past but his shot on goal from 40m out goes to the right.

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Q4 11 MIN, ESS 90 RICH 34

Bellchambers lines up from 40m on a tight angle but that doesn't faze the big ruckman who slots home a beauty!

AFL behind

Q4 10 MIN, ESS 84 RICH 34

Griffiths passes it to Deledio whose set shot from outside 50 is helped through for a rushed behind.


Q4 7 MIN, ESS 84 RICH 33

Foley dishes it off to Martin who runs in and from 30m out boots Richmond's first goal since the 21-minute mark of the second term.

AFL behind

Q4 6 MIN, ESS 84 RICH 27

Riewoldt lines up from 48m next to the fence and his shot on goal is helped through by Bellchambers.

AFL behind

Q4 4 MIN, ESS 84 RICH 26

Chapman roosts it forward and finds his 2009 Grand Final adversary Goddard who easily outmarks Deledio.

But from 20m out, Goddard misses!

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