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Tigers survive Bomber fight to take Dreamtime honours

Highlights: Round 10 Watch the highlights from Richmond's Dreamtime at the 'G clash against Essendon.

A TENACIOUS Richmond has mastered the wet conditions better than Essendon to take Dreamtime at the 'G honours 10.13 (73) to 6.14 (50) at the MCG on Saturday night.

The contest turned into a display of old-style football as both sides pushed the ball forward by soccering, punching and simply bullocking towards goal, with the smaller and zippier Tigers suited better to the wet.

The Tigers' front half was dominated by smalls, with Jack Higgins, Daniel Rioli, Jason Castagna, Shai Bolton and Liam Baker proving dangerous in the wet throughout the contest. They combined for seven goals, but also applied 21 tackles.  

Essendon, meanwhile, had a forward line of markers, headed by Shaun McKernan and Aaron Francis, and Jake Stringer before his hamstring injury in the second quarter.

Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was Essendon's main option at ground level, but the livewire was quiet, continuing his run of being goalless in every Bombers defeat this year.

Richmond's ability to mop up the ball in their back half and sweep it forward was best represented by the performance of Bachar Houli, who was best afield for the Tigers as they cemented themselves among the top rung of contenders despite a long injury list.

The running half-back collected 37 disposals and was dominant in setting up the Tigers, while midfielders Dustin Martin (35 disposals, seven clearances), Shane Edwards (26) and Dion Prestia (25) were excellent.

Darcy Parish was Essendon's standout. The No.5 draft pick pieced together a career-best tally of 31 disposals (and eight clearances), was tough and clean, and showed why he should play in the Bombers' midfield on a full-time basis instead of across half-forward where he is often used.

Tom Bellchambers, as expected, dominated the ruck battle with 40 hit-outs against Tigers first-gamer Callum Coleman-Jones and newcomer Noah Balta, but the Bombers didn't capitalise on that.

Richmond held Essendon to its third goalless first quarter of the season, but the Tigers weren't much better, with Jack Higgins booting the only major of the term at the 10-minute mark.

Martin got off to a flyer early, but the Bombers midfield, steered by Heppell, who gathered 11 touches in the opening quarter, wrestled back control around the ball.

Parish's grunt work was excellent in the second term in powering the Bombers forward from the stoppages, but the Tigers' miserly defence proved too hard to penetrate and they led by 18 at the main break.

The Tigers kicked the first four goals of the third quarter, with Essendon's second goal of the game arriving at the 28-minute mark of the term.

Essendon came home with a flurry of goals, getting to within 15 points of the Tigers with eight minutes to play. But the Bombers gave themselves too much to do and, now perched at 4-6, their season might tell a similar story at its close.

RICHMOND:   1.2   4.7   8.11   10.13 (66)
ESSENDON:   0.3   1.7   2.10   6.14 (50)

Richmond: Lynch 2, Castagna 2, Higgins 2, Baker, Prestia, Bolton, Rioli
Essendon: Langford 3, Begley, Laverde, Bellchambers

 Houli, Martin, Edwards, Baker, Prestia, Vlastuin
Essendon: Parish, Heppell, Bellchambers, Shiel

Richmond: Lynch (leg)
Essendon: Jake Stringer (hamstring), Shiel (hamstring)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Donlon, Foot, Meredith

Official crowd: 80,176 at the MCG