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Richmond keeps finals dream alive with win over Essendon

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Tigers remain in finals hunt

Richmond has defeated Essendon by 18 points at the MCG to record a sixth-straight win and remain a finals chance.

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RICHMOND 1.2 7.4 9.8 14.11 (95) ESSENDON 3.2 6.4 8.7 11.11 (77)
Goals: Richmond: B Deledio 2 J Riewoldt 2 N Gordon 2 S Edwards 2 B Ellis B Griffiths B Houli D Martin I Maric T Cotchin. Essendon: J Carlisle 2 J Melksham 2 P Chapman 2 B Goddard C Dell'Olio D Heppell J Winderlich Z Merrett.
BEST Richmond: Miles, Ellis, Cotchin, Edwards, Maric, Martin, Houli. Essendon: Heppell, Zaharakis, Goddard, Chapman, Myers, Colyer.
Umpires: Mathew Nicholls, Shane McInerney, Andrew Mitchell.
Official Crowd: 58,024 at MCG.

Richmond’s improbable dream of playing finals remains possible, if still unlikely, while Essendon’s top eight place has become more precarious. In besting the Bombers by 18 points, the Tigers won their sixth straight game and kept their quixotic run alive.

In an entertaining match between teams of similar capacity, the Tigers withstood a spirited Essendon challenge – the Tigers had led by 18 points mid-term and seemed assured of victory before an Essendon counter-offensive – and then finished stronger with the last two goals to claim their ninth win.

Cale Hooker of Essendon and Jack Riewoldt of Richmond have eyes only for the ball.

Cale Hooker of Essendon and Jack Riewoldt of Richmond have eyes only for the ball. Photo: Getty Images

Time
Q4 31:18
Team
RFC
Score
14.11.95
Team
EFC
Score
11.11.77
Richmond versus Essendon
View Match Statistics
Players Riewoldt (2.3), Deledio (2.1), Edwards (2.1), Gordon (2.0), Maric (1.1), Martin (1.1), Cotchin (1.0), Ellis (1.0), Griffiths (1.0), Houli (1.0), Grigg (0.1) Scorers Carlisle (2.3), Melksham (2.1), Chapman (2.0), Goddard (1.1), Winderlich (1.1), Dell'Olio (1.0), Heppell (1.0), Merrett (1.0), Daniher (0.1), Hurley (0.1)

Unusually, the difference was Richmond’s slightly superior composure with the ball and forward potency. The Tigers botched fewer opportunities than the Dons. 

The Bombers were heavily dependent upon their emerging superstar, Dyson Heppell, who was probably best afield and an omnipresent threat throughout.

Statistically, the Tigers can play finals, if various moons align and rivals lose – an extraordinary notion given that they were 3-10 six weeks ago. Regardless of what happens from here, they have given their vociferous fans hope, and a water cooler conversation for everyone else.

The Tigers had come from behind early in the match, owning the second quarter, and then the most important moments of the second half. Essendon’s inefficiency in attack – its weakness all season – was the story of its failure. It was this problem that prompted the shifting of Michael Hurley into the forward half late in the game.

This was a game of alternating surges. First Essendon, then Richmond – this was the yo-yo pattern that repeated throughout the match. The decisive surge was the first few minutes of the final quarter, when the Tigers slotted a pair of goals to forge a lead of beyond three goals. 

Essendon’s concern,  and ultimate undoing,  was that it did not score as heavily from its periods of ascendancy. This was most evident during the third quarter, when the Bombers had far more ball and forward entries, yet were outscored by a point.

The Dons were most dangerous on the counter-attack, with a high wire act of overlapping handball. But many a thrust foundered in their forward 50-metre arc, where Joe Daniher was ineffectual and was unable to provide the necessary scoring alternative to Jake Carlisle. Paul Chapman was dangerous with the ball in hand. 

The Tigers had been on the back foot in the third quarter, yet by containing damage during the Essendon surge, were able to restore their half-time lead. A brilliant curling snap from Dustin Martin, against the run of general play, enabled Richmond to hold a slightly improbable seven-point advantage at three-quarter-time.

Richmond had gained the momentum and lead in the second term, scoring six goals to three, reversing the pattern that Essendon had established. The Tigers’ surge was built upon the game’s most fundamental skill: winning the ball. 

They had a decisive edge in the stoppages, where the club’s find of 2014, Anthony Miles, accumulated six clearances, among his 19 touches.

 Brett Deledio sprinted into an open paddock  for his second goal, while Shane Edward’s clever roving and evasion had enabled an easy Brandon Ellis conversion. Aside from a wonderful angle shot from just inside 50metres, Jack Riewoldt was quelled in the opening half by rangy Cale Hooker, but, in a most encouraging development for Damien Hardwick, Ben Griffiths – deputising for Tyrone Vickery – had a genuine impact as Richmond’s much needed  and perennially absent second fiddle to Riewoldt, and by doing so, contained Essendon’s defensive trump, Hurley.

The Tigers had snatched the lead by mid second quarter, then lost it, before a holding free was paid to Trent Cotchin as the siren was set to sound for half-time to regain a one kick advantage. Carlisle - the sole forward threat in red and black - had mixed his aerial excellence with an astonishing act of stupidity, when he fingered Chris Newman in the throat for a second 50-metre penalty that gave Bachar Houli a gimme.

The Bombers had been much sharper, fiercer and cleaner with the ball – better really in most facets – during the opening quarter. Richmond was blessed to be within two goals at quarter time (3.2 to 1.2), given that the margin of superiority seemed greater than 12points. 

Essendon had – in defiance of conventional wisdom – allowed Trent Cotchin to run largely unchecked, while placing a harder tag, in the person of Heath Hocking, on Deledio. 

In the absence of Jobe Watson, Heppell has emerged as Essendon’s premier player over the course of this season. He and David Zaharakis were influential around the ball in this early period.

The Tigers were getting wiped in the contest, in the spread and had minimal impact from Cotchin, Martin and Riewoldt. Their only source of hope, at this stage, was the stoppages, where their mids held sway – statistically at least - in clearances, where Miles, contributed three among his largely invisible 14 first quarter touches.

The Tigers, though, had the upside. In what was the story of their season writ small, they regained their mojo and prevailed. It just remains to be seen whether this resurgence will be worthwhile.

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Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78 vs RIC 105 19:20MCG
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115 vs GCF 89 13:40MCG
SYD 72 vs ESS 60 16:35ANZ
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WBU 97 vs WCE 87 19:20ES
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs GWS 87 13:10ES
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 75 vs PTA 68 18:40Domain Stadium
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HAW 123 vs GEE 61 15:20MCG
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Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
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RIC 66 vs WBU 85 13:45MCG
GWS 101 vs MEL 56 14:10SO
COL 63 vs ADE 90 16:35ES
GCF 76 vs STK 104 19:20MS
PTA 44 vs SYD 92 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60 vs FRE 104 13:10SS
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NTH 133 vs BRI 51 16:40ES
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Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
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Round 4
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Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
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WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
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Round 16
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COL vs WCE 16:35ES
SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
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PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
STK vs RIC 16:40ES
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Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
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ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
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ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
BRI vs NTH 19:20G
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Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
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COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
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ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
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GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs FRE 16:40ES
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Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
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GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
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WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
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GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
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STK vs SYD 15:20ES
FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
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GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
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AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 4 4 0 0 135.32 16
Adelaide Crows 3 3 0 0 171.27 12
GWS Giants 4 3 1 0 133.22 12
Collingwood 4 3 1 0 128.32 12
Sydney Swans 4 3 1 0 125.00 12
Hawthorn 4 2 2 0 141.36 8
West Coast Eagles 4 2 2 0 124.48 8
Richmond 4 2 2 0 118.09 8
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