Tigers continue Essendon’s woes
Richmond continued Essendon’s late-season AFL agony, dominating most of Friday night’s game to win by 45 points.
The 13.24 (102) to 8.9 (57) result at the MCG was the Bombers’ sixth-straight loss and ended their finals hopes, which were effectively shot a week ago when Carlton obliterated them by 96 points.
Essendon’s plague of soft-tissue injuries this season also continued when Alwyn Davey was subbed off early in the second term with a hamstring problem.
Midfielder Shane Tuck starred for Richmond with 33 disposals and full-forward Jack Riewoldt kicked three goals to stay in contention for the Coleman Medal.
Tigers star Trent Cotchin and Essendon captain Jobe Watson are Brownlow Medal favourites, with the Richmond star more likely to have earned a vote from this game.
Cotchin had 31 possessions, but finished with 0.5 in front of goal.
While Richmond and Essendon will probably finish the season with 11-11 records, their circumstances are vastly different.
If they beat Port next week, the Tigers will have won four of their last five games.
By contrast, Essendon had high hopes after making the finals last season, but a year that started so well has gone into freefall.
They will start rank outsiders next week against premiership contenders Collingwood.
The Bombers were terrible at times on Friday night and a fairer reflection of the game would be to reverse Richmond’s goals and behinds.
At halftime, the Tigers led by 29 points, but had dominated the inside 50 count by a whopping 42-23.
Courtenay Dempsey personified Essendon’s woes – clearly low on confidence, he made repeated mistakes and his season cannot end quickly enough.
But he had plenty of mates.
The Bombers only trailed by 18 points when they kicked two goals early in the third term.
Richmond kicked the last three goals of the quarter to snuff out the challenge.
Also in the third term, Tigers utility Shane Edwards was reported for striking Essendon forward Angus Monfries with a forearm to the face.
Adding to Essendon’s woes, key position player Michael Hurley limped off during the final term.
Dyson Heppell and Stewart Crameri stood out on a bleak night for Essendon, while first-gamer Nick O’Brien goalled in the opening term with his first kick in the AFL.
Essendon coach James Hird lamented his players’ lack of adventure and said they did not take the game on enough.
He also said their kicking was a major concern and something they will spend plenty of time on during the off-season.
“I’d rather get flogged and take the game on than lose by 50 – it was a bad-enough loss anyway – and be safe,” Hird said.
“We’re a better kicking team than … we showed tonight.
“We’re going to get some time to work on it pretty soon, we have a big summer ahead.”
Hird confirmed Davey suffered a hamstring injury, while Hurley suffered a knock to his ribs and Crameri hurt his shoulder.
While Richmond coach Damien Hardwick would have liked more polish in attack, he was rapt with his side’s effort.
“For a period of time there was some concern, coming from a reasonably hot day in Perth back on a six day break,” he said.
“We probably were a bit nervous going into the game.
“It was always going to be a slog early, but to work away was really good.
“The thing that was disappointing was our composure to get the ball inside 50 to a marking target. We’ve just got to improve in that area.”© AAP 2013
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