Essendon v Richmond, Saturday 5 June 2021
Richmond are wearing a beautiful jumper for tonight’s game while the Bombers, with the greatest respect, are not. It has way too much red and this will surely hinder their play.
This turns out to be true. Mabior Chol starts the game very strongly and almost kicks a goal in the first minute when he runs in and boots the ball from long range. But it’s slightly off-target and we lead 1-0. Presti gets a point to double our lead and then C C-Jones wins a lucky free in the goal-square and kicks our first goal. After each goal tonight someone plays the digeridoo which is a nice touch. Dusty fires in a bullet of a pass to C C-Jones who marks and ought to take the kick but is persuaded to give it back to Dusty who snaps and misses.Embed from Getty Images
Chol takes what Richo tells us is his third intercept mark and the game is only minutes old. He wins the footy again and kicks beautifully to Martin who marks and goals from 30m out. Essendon get their first after a Tiger turnover. Andy McGrath goes off injured for the Bombers. I haven’t followed their fortunes closely of late but we are told this is a big blow for them. McDonald-Tipungwuti is very quiet, but nobody seems to notice this until he gets his first kick in the last quarter. It could be because he’s injured or maybe the Tiger playing on him, which could be Short, is a gun defender. So many unknowns.
Vlaustin kicks well to Edwards who kicks perfectly to Castagna, directly in front, 30 from goal. George kicks it “over the umpire’s hat,” according to McLachlan who, as a commentator, is better than BT.
George is involved in our next goal when he wins the footy near the boundary and sends in a long kick to Riewoldt who marks and goals from 15 metres. The siren goes and were up by 19 points.
Quarter-time score: Essendon 1.2.8 to Richmond 4.3.27
Richmond holds the Bombers at arms-length in the second term. At times it looks like they might put them away but they don’t. A highlight is Caddy’s almost-stuff-up. He should kick from one pocket but wants to give the ball away. Somehow, he ends up on the other side of the goals and kicks a left-foot goal over his head. He’s turned a difficult shot into an almost impossible one and pulled it off. Well done Josh. It puts us 27 points up but the Bombers come back before the main break.Embed from Getty Images
Half-time score: Essendon 5.4.34 to Richmond 8.7.55
Again in the third term we look at times like we might bury the Bombers but we can’t quite do it. At one point the lead is five goals but it’s down to 16 points just before the last change. Dusty’s goal with 30 seconds left to make us more comfortable. Or is that complacent?
Three quarter-time score: Essendon 8.10.58 to Richmond 12.8.80
I’ve enjoyed the game so far but I wish we were further in front. Three or four goals is just not enough. The lead can disappear faster than fifty dollars on a holiday.
My pessimism is well-founded. Riewoldt has a chance to put us further in front but his kick falls short and would have missed anyway. Parish, with his 38th possession, kicks long to Hooker who marks and goals from right in front.
Things get better when Stringer marks on a tight angle and then passes to Waterman who misses. This is a great let-off for the Tigers who clear the ball with promise from defence. A good rebound is underway but the umpire has spotted Dusty thumping someone 100m up the ground and awards a free kick to the Bombers on their forward line. Hooker gets another one and our lead is down to nine points. I’m very cross with Dusty – a clenched fist, 100m off the ball? How was that ever going to help?Embed from Getty Images
A minute later McDonald-Tipungwuti, with what Richo notes is his first kick of the game, passes to Langford who marks and goals. The Bombers are within a kick, the last quarter has barely started and the very pro-Essendon crowd are roaring. Footy doesn’t get much worse than this.Embed from Getty Images
Only it does. Very soon after Waterman runs onto a loose ball and puts the Bombers in front. There are 13 minutes left in the game and Richmond can’t get their hands on the footy. This puts them at a great disadvantage, you’d have to say.
But we do get our hands on it and Riewoldt wins a free for holding about 50 from goal. Aarts gets the footy as the whistle is blown, plays on and misses and everyone thinks, he shouldn’t have done that. Which is easy to say after you’ve missed, but from the free Jack was no certainty. Things are looking up for us though, especially as Stringer gets the footy and kicks out on the full. Aarts kicks to Castagna who marks 20 out, kicks the set-shot around the corner, like all the cool players do now and we’re back in front.Embed from Getty Images
Richmond attack again, Riewoldt plays very cleverly near the boundary, keeps the ball in, doesn’t let himself be tackled and kicks to Bolton who gathers and goals and we’re one and a bit goals in front and breathing a bit easier on the couch in Preston. Edwards follows up with what has to be a deliberate off-the-side-of-the-boot kick that lands in Dusty’s lap. He makes amends for his clenched fist off-the-ball and goals from 50 out. His kick is perfect, dropping neatly once it crosses the line. We’re up by 16 and there’s seven minutes left.
Edwards, who is having a good game, kicks into the 50 and Bolton takes a terrific mark which is disallowed for a faint push from Riewoldt. Really. I think that the faint push should be out-weighed by the brilliance of the mark. That ought to be the rule, but it’s not. The commentators and the cameras and therefore us in Preston are pre-occupied with the disallowed mark and so it remains a mystery to this day how the next bit of play unfolds. Somehow Essendon manage to cough up the ball from the resulting free kick which is bad for them as it’s deep in our forward line. A manic passage of play ensues. Riewoldt is brought down, the ball spills loose into a pack of players, Graham barges in, grabs the footy and barges out again. Half the Essendon team are trying to tackle him but he somehow handballs to Bolton. Shai is almost tackled and almost falls over and is almost tripped. Almost, but not. He spins out of trouble and snaps the ball back across his body.Embed from Getty Images
On the couch I am amazed that the ball even got to him, dumbfounded that he wasn’t stopped by the Bomber defenders who were in good number. I’m incredulous that he actually got his kick away. The fact that it’s a goal is beyond belief, one of those things that just cannot be. It can’t and yet it is and Richmond are up by 22 points with six minutes left. Seven minutes earlier we had just lost the lead and the Bombers were rampaging. Now we’ve put them back in their box and shown them how to play footy.
Prestia has to go off with an injury which is very sad as he only just got back into the team. Rioli comes on in his place. Balta, who has had a good game in defence, gets the ball on the forward flank, takes one step and lets fly from outside the 50. It’s a goal, of course. We are putting on a clinic for the Bombers and teaching them not to steal a lead from us in the last quarter after we’ve been in front all night.Embed from Getty Images
We lead by more than four goals and there are four minutes left which is a recipe for relief. McIntosh, back on his home soil in the West, marks and goals and the players look as relieved as we feel. In the last minute Rioli goals from a long Pickett handpass and we’re 39 points up when the siren goes.
Final score: Essendon 12.12.84 to Richmond 19.9.123
Darcy Parish wins the Yiooken for best-on-ground. He deserved it but seems uncertain what to do. No doubt, he would rather his team had won and someone else had won the award.
I have to say I’m pleased with the win. I would really like to know how Tippa was kept so quiet. Whoever was responsible might be considered our matchwinner. As in most of our wins it’s hard to pick the very best players. The defenders have all done well, again – Grimes, Balta, Vlaustin, Houli, Short and Baker. And Broad has had yet another good game. Bolton and Dusty have done all right too, but I’m still cross with Dusty for that costly turnover. Prestia, before he was injured, did well. Cotch and Sheds too. I could name the whole team, again.
And I am very heartened by the heart of this side. How many times this season have they come back and won? Against Footscray, against the Giants, against Adelaide and now, after coughing up the lead in the last quarter, against the Bombers. I can’t see us coming from behind to beat the Eagles in Perth this Sunday though. We’ll just have to get in front and stay there.