AFL Round 9 – Richmond v Essendon: Tigers caught snoozing in Dreamtime game

The lights slowly dim at the MCG until only the blinding flashes of thousands of cameras illuminate the stadium. The colosseum falls silent as Michael Long emerges gracefully onto the perfectly manicured turf, with hundreds of followers at his back. The processions begin with Nicky Winmar entering the fold, lighting up the G with a smile, while indigenous dancers and singers then captivate the crowd. Long gives his final address to the crowd, acknowledging the traditional owners of the land and gearing Richmond & Essendon for battle. The dancers, singers and walkers leave the ground in swarms, the lights slowly flicker back on as the crowd acknowledges the indigenous performance. The scene is set, Dreamtime at the G, here we go.

The game begins in sluggish fashion, as Essendon employ a defensive press to squash and strangle Richmond. Both sides struggle to play with any real flow, as the game stagnates and seems destined to be a low-scoring affair. The Tigers are able to squeeze two goals out through Jack Riewoldt and Luke Mc Guane, but the Bombers level on each occasion, leaving scores virtually dead even at quarter-time. Apart from a embarrassingly delayed score review call on Hurely’s touched goal (despite 3 Richmond players appealing straight away) , the first term was rather uneventful and an anti-climax. Both side were uncharacteristically flat and lazy, perhaps they had taken Dreamtime at G literally.

Through the brilliance of Jobe Watson, Essendon awakened and began to control the game well through precise ball movement and excellent defensive set-ups. The Essendon midfield were dominating and out-muscling the young tiger stars, while Big Boy Bellchambers was controlling the ruck contest. Watson began to take charge in the middle, single-handedly winning nearly each and every clearance, while going forward to kick 3 himself and assist several others. He certainly had the Yiooken Medal in one hand at half-time as the Bombers led by 20.

The game never improved for Richmond, uncharacteristically sluggish for the whole game as Watson and the Bombers continued to dominate the midfield, and hence the scoreboard. It was like the Tigers never truly ‘woke-up,’ ironic given the occasion of the match. Maybe they needed a bucket of water? The Bombers cruised to victory in the second half, as the Tigers could never really emerge from their slump, not that the Bombers would let them.  Ivan Maric was having a poor night, Brett Deledio seemed to be hampered by an injury earlier and the forwards could barely give a yelp with the lack of ball coming in. Had Richmond trained poorly again? Had the occasion got to them once again? Had they really improved? Questions that journalists love to ask about Richmond began to enter the mind. I had a simple answer though. The Bombers were switched on for the occasion, won the ball more often from the stoppages, used the ball better and scored more efficiently than Richmond. End of story.

Richmond could only dream of the win the way they were playing, while on the other hand, the Bombers could continue to dare to dream of September glory. The siren sounds and a 29 point victory to the Bombers is confirmed, with the Yiooken medal being placed around the deserved neck of Jobe Watson. For all the off-field trouble that Essendon have been embroiled in, Jobe Watson’s actions should be commended. The man speaks like a champion, plays with grace and is a respected leader, a deserved winner of the 2012 Brownlow Medal, and arguably the best player in the competition. If Trent Cotchin turns out to be half the leader that Jobe is, i’ll be a happy man.

Dreamtime at the G has come and gone in a flash. No longer is the stadium engulfed in darkness, but in seas of red and black as the Bomber fans celebrate the win. The Yellow and Black faithful has deserted the ground in disappointment, but i feel differently. It’s not the the normal feeling I experience after a loss, but rather a feeling of acceptance. I seem happy for the Bombers because of all the drama they have gone through and feel content to accept the loss as a loss to a superior side, both mentally and physically. At the same time I am upset that the Tigers lost the game, but it is an unusual feeling. Who knows, maybe I am dreaming?

RICHMOND               2.2      4.5      6.5       9.8 (62)

ESSENDON               2.3     7.7     11.9    13.13 (91)


Richmond: Riewoldt 2, Cotchin, Edwards, King, Martin, McGuane, Nahas, Vlastuin

Essendon: Crameri 3, Watson 3, Zaharakis 2, Hibberd, Howlett, Melksham, Stanton, Winderlich


Richmond: Rance, Grigg, Chaplin, Vlastuin, Newman, Jackson

Essendon: Watson, Zaharakis, Stanton, Goddard, Hibberd, Hocking, Dempsey


Richmond: Ellis (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Nahas

Essendon: Hurley (ankle)

Umpires: Donlon, Rosebury, Findlay

Official crowd: 84, 234 at the MCG



3-Jobe Watson

2-David Zaharakis

1-Tom Bellchambers


  1. Gracious review Dominic. Interesting call on Bellchambers though – I thought it was Ryder’s tap work and around the ground efforts that showed up Maric.

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