Trent Cotchin leads jake Melksham to the footy.RICHMOND 5.5 8.11 12.16 13.24 (102) ESSENDON 3.2 4.6 7.9 8.9 (57)GOALS Richmond: Riewoldt 3, McGuane 2, Edwards 2, Deledio, O’Hanlon, Astbury, Martin, Nahas, Grigg. Essendon: Monfries 3, Browne, Jetta, Hurley, O’Brien, Gumbleton. BEST Richmond: Tuck, Deledio, Houli, Cotchin, Martin, Maric, Batchelor. Essendon: Heppell, Crameri, Watson. INJURIES Richmond: White (hamstring). Essendon: Davey (hamstring). UMPIRES Mollison, Nicholls, McInerney. CROWD 47,590 at MCG.
HERE’S a little story about how luck has been treating Essendon lately. Stewart Crameri grabbed the ball about 60 metres from goal last night, turned, looked, took a few quick, bold steps and swung. About 18 minutes into the game against Richmond the Bombers were trying: running, chasing, winning the ball, holding Trent Cotchin to just two possessions. But as Crameri kicked, Steve Morris lunged, smothering the ball. Within seconds the Tigers had whisked it to the other end, straight into the arms of Jack Riewoldt, 30 metres out. No goal to Essendon, a third to Richmond, and with it a 16-point lead.
The margin was still two goals at quarter-time and the Bombers were still hanging in there, still winning enough of the ball, still pushing into space, and starting to turn a few half-chances into three-quarter chances, against a team that was blowing a few. But as it turned out that’s all they were doing, holding on.
By half-time, Richmond was leading by 29 points. The Tigers had won 30 more possessions — all of them uncontested — and laid a lot more tackles. They had pumped the ball towards goal over and over, 42 times to the Bombers’ 23 by the time the siren sounded, on track for the record.
Cotchin, slipping forward, was up to 11 possessions. Jobe Watson, after an 11-possession opening term, had just two. Richmond players were still searching harder for space, taking the ball forward and when they didn’t win the ball the Bombers gave it back to them more often than not. Their defenders were under enormous pressure given the yellow-and-black avalanche, but on at least seven occasions turned the ball over and watched it get kicked over their heads for goals, caught bewildered and doing things they didn’t need to do.
Courtenay Dempsey’s very good season has become derailed in the past few weeks by his own frustration, an unnecessary behind-the-play headlock on Cotchin, after Cotchin had cleared the ball, giving up another inside-50.
The Tigers were not by any means playing brilliant football. Riewoldt was taking marks and getting shots on goal, but missing more than he was nailing. Their midfielders had worked their way well on top, with Shane Tuck and Brett Deledio prolific, without absolutely driving home their advantage. They forced many mistakes, and benefited from other Essendon errors, but were still able to turn a patchy start into a substantial lead, setting all the initiative. They were playing better, more organised football by the end of the half, making far fewer mistakes. They were running. The only thing they weren’t doing was putting the Bombers away.
A goal to Leroy Jetta at the start of the third quarter provided a little red-and-black flicker. Others, to Angus Monfries and the energetic Alex Browne, got them back to within 20 points, but Richmond didn’t want to let them get closer and was able, each time, to find a goal of its own and keep the Bombers far enough away.
First came Dustin Martin’s long, emphatic goal. Then it was Riewoldt — having forced Michael Hurley’s move to defence — starting to get his timing right. His third goal — and another on the siren to Robin Nahas, after Riewoldt’s pass — meant things were basically as they were by the end of the third term: the Tigers in control, six goals up, doing what they needed to do.
By the end, the Essendon players were what they have been in the past couple of months. A few tried their hearts out; Watson, as always, was one of them, and Hurley another. A few in horrible form, but trying. A bunch that looks dazed and confused. A bunch that looks frustrated. A larger bunch that looks utterly unable to run or find a teammate by foot.At least one on the bench, injured.
Richmond’s ideal finish would have seen it pile on some more goals, extend the lead and inflict more misery than it already had. That didn’t quite happen, the lead extended through more points than goals in the last term as things petered out until Brett O’Hanlon snapped his first for the night.
But this is a team still learning how much is “enough”, and that’s exactly what it got.
Nothing lifts the mood like a debutant booting a goal with his first kick. Nick O’Brien joined that club last night and he had Leroy Jetta to thank for it. A few minutes into the game, Michael Hurley kicked to a dangerous spot and Jetta took a fresh-air swish from the goal square. O’Brien made no such mistake, keeping his cool as Richmond defenders closed in and banging the ball through. He had four kicks in the first term, hit Hurley on the chest with one of them and appeared unfazed by the occasion.
Courtenay Dempsey has displayed a short fuse in recent weeks. Last night, against the Tigers, he was punished again, this time for a crude tackle off the ball on Trent Cotchin during the second term. Dempsey has been something of a barometer for the Bombers – he made an impressive comeback from a knee reconstruction and was flying when the Bombers were hot, but mistakes have crept into his game as the team’s form faded.
Jack Riewoldt can still win the Coleman Medal and his hopes will rise if Matthew Pavlich’s injuries force him out. Riewoldt kept his hopes of a second Coleman (he won in 2010) alive with three goals to move to 59, one behind Pavlich. – CHLOE SALTAU
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.