Essendon have taken another hit in their AFL season from hell, suffering a 32-point defeat to Richmond.
Dion Prestia (36 disposals) starred and Jack Riewoldt kicked four goals for the Tigers in their 11.14 (80) to 7.6 (48) win at the MCG on Saturday night.
Prestia received the Yiooken Award as best afield, while Liam Baker (30 disposals) continued his outstanding season and Robbie Tarrant stood tall in defence.
Indigenous talents Daniel Rioli (26 disposals), Shane Edwards (21), Shai Bolton and Maurice Rioli Jnr (two goals each) all gave fitting contributions in the Dreamtime feature match.
But Kane Lambert was substituted out with hip soreness and Tom Lynch (hamstring) sat out the final quarter of a win that firmed up Richmond’s (6-4) spot in the top-eight.
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick described it as a messy affair, joking the final siren was the most pleasing aspect of the night.
“Our ball movement didn’t look anywhere near as sharp (as it can), so they did a good job defending us, and we left a fair few goals on the table, which is a little bit disappointing,” Hardwick said.
“We walk away with the four points but we’ve certainly got a lot of improvement left in us.”
Put under a fierce blowtorch this week, Essendon needed to show more fight than in their meek round-nine surrender to Sydney.
The Bombers repeatedly flew the flag in a fiery Dreamtime contest but never looked like being able to produce an upset win that could have sparked a turnaround in their campaign.
The loss left them floundering near the foot of the ladder with a 2-8 record.
And making matters worse, Mason Redman was reported for striking Prestia off the ball.
“We’re disappointed about the result,” Bombers coach Rutten said.
“But in terms of our response from last week, in particular around the contest, our pressure and our tackling, I thought there was improvement there.
“That part we were pleased with.”
Darcy Parish racked up 43 touches, including 19 contested possessions, in a losing cause but wasn’t clean in his disposal by foot.
Zach Merrett (33 disposals) and Redman (29) found plenty of the ball and youngster Ben Hobbs kicked two goals.
Essendon great Matthew Lloyd led the chorus of criticism against his old club in recent days and would have been at least been pleased to see the Bombers show some aggression from the outset.
They laid 20 tackles in the first quarter and 63 on the night, after tallying just 30 for the entire game a week earlier, while contested possessions and clearances were relatively even.
But for all the Bombers’ endeavour, they coughed the ball up too easily and were outclassed by a far more efficient Richmond.
A run of five-straight Tigers goals either side of the first break gave them a lead they never relinquished.
Richmond sewed up a comfortable, if not pretty, victory midway through the final term when Bolton kicked his second major and cheekily waved ‘goodbye’ to the Essendon cheer squad.
The Bombers lost Matt Guelfi to a hamstring injury after half-time.