ESSENDON 4.4 9.8 11.11 15.14 (104) RICHMOND 0.1 3.5 3.8 7.12 (54)
Goals: Essendon: B Howlett 5 J Daniher 3 Z Merrett 2 D Fletcher D Heppell M Hibberd P Chapman T Bellchambers. Richmond: J Riewoldt 3 D Martin 2 S Edwards T Cotchin.
Best - ESSENDON: Howlett, Goddard, Watson, Fletcher, Carlisle, Zaharakis, Hocking. RICHMOND: Martin, Ellis, Jackson, Cotchin.
Injuries: Essendon: C Dempsey (ankle) M Hurley (back) replaced in selected side by J Daniher. Richmond: D Jackson (hip).
Umpires: Scott Jeffery, Shane McInerney, Heath Ryan.
Official Crowd: 74,664 at MCG.
One moment summed up this miserable night for Richmond better than any other.
It was early in the third quarter, the Tigers already nearly eight goals in arrears, and desperately attempting to spark some sort of revival. In Essendon's forward-pocket, Joe Daniher conceded a free kick for interference, a temporary respite for a side under siege.
Dyson Heppell handballs under pressure after a centre clearance. Photo: Pat Scala
- Q4 28:42
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Howlett (5.0), Daniher (3.1), Merrett (2.0), Chapman (1.1), Heppell (1.1), Bellchambers (1.0), Fletcher (1.0), Hibberd (1.0), Stanton (0.2), Zaharakis (0.2), Goddard (0.1), Hocking (0.1), Ryder (0.1), Winderlich (0.1)||Scorers||Riewoldt (3.0), Martin (2.1), Cotchin (1.1), Edwards (1.1), Deledio (0.1), Hampson (0.1), Houli (0.1)|
Or so it should have been. For some inexplicable reason, Richmond defender Alex Rance took the advantage call, turned inboard, and proceeded to dribble a kick not only right across the face of goal, but straight to Essendon's Ben Howlett, who managed to stave off his disbelief long enough to gratefully accept the gift and boot the fourth of his career-high five goals.
The writing was on the wall in this 50-point pasting very early indeed, Essendon with four goals in the first 15 minutes, Richmond goalless at quarter-time, and the lead growing from 27 points to 39 to 51 by the final change, by which time the final term promised little but a glorified training session.
Essendon turned in, by some margin, its best performance since round three, nearly two months ago, as confidence lost returned by the minute.
AFL Round 11 Essendon vs Richmond at the MCG.
AFL Essendon 15-14-104 defeated Richmond 7-12-54 by 50 points at the Dreamtime match at MCG. Photo: Pat Scala
Howlett had a birthday, late inclusion Daniher found some goals to go with his obvious promise. At the other end of the age spectrum, "Old Man Time" Dustin Fletcher got things rolling with a booming first goal of the game, and played the superlative spoiling and rebound game thereafter. Brendon Goddard was dangerous and prolific for the Dons, as were Jobe Watson, Brent Stanton and David Zaharakis.
Jake Carlisle, meanwhile, back in his natural stamping ground of defence after the late withdrawal of Michael Hurley, also proved a sizeable point with his composed marking and delivery early in the piece when there was still some sort of contest.
Which wasn't long, admittedly. Richmond just couldn't get its hands to the ball, and couldn't apply nearly the sort of pressure required when its opponent did, to offer its fans any signs at all that last week's beating up on GWS was going to prove anything more than the ultimate in "flat-track bullying".
Jack Riewoldt copped the bronx cheers towards the end, and before three late goals, but really, what hope did he have given how few opportunities came his way. And which teammates could boast any more meaningful contributions than his?
Dustin Martin certainly. Brandon Ellis, Daniel Jackson, maybe skipper Trent Cotchin. But that was about that.
Essendon dominated virtually every conceivable statistic from very early in the piece, the disposals, the contested and uncontested possession, the tackles and certainly the inside 50s, of which the Dons had racked up nine before the Tigers had their second.
It was already going to take the Tigers' best to engineer some sort of revival, and for the briefest of periods in the second quarter, that's what happened. The Tigers had a sniff, Dyson Heppell hit the post for the Dons, and when Goddard ran off holding his cheekbone after an accidental elbow, it seemed like the tide might be turning.
Perhaps Essendon sensed it, too, because the Bombers suddenly went up a gear again. Heppell went one better than his poster, with a left-foot snap, Howlett bobbed up for his third, and then late inclusion Daniher decided to stamp his imprint on proceedings.
Already busy enough without getting the material returns, that soon changed. First, Baguley found him with a clever chip to the goalsquare from inside 50. Michael Hibberd finished off arguably the Dons' best move of the night as they worked the ball from wing to wing before the left-footer took possession on the overlap and slammed one through from 40 metres.
And if a 33-point lead wasn't enough of a half-time boost, Daniher struck again as the siren sounded, a tackle dispossessing Richmond's Shane Edwards, the turnover landing in Daniher's hands with a couple of seconds still left on the clock, ringing as his shot from outside 50 sailed through, the gangly key forward surrounded by a posse of jubilant teammates.
That was the symbolic end of any lingering doubt about the result of this game. And for Richmond, "head in hand" moments like Rance's own episode of Comedy Capers in the third quarter were just one of any number of instances when the Tigers, now three wins from 10 games, and playing out virtually an hour of junk time, would rather have been anywhere than at the MCG.