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Five talking points: Richmond v Essendon

Highlights: Richmond v Essendon The Tigers and Bombers clash in round 22

1. Bombers' finals hopes as good as done as Tigers' streak continues
A season that started with so much promise for Essendon was effectively consigned to history by a Richmond team that won its 20th successive game at the MCG and its eighth in a row against the Bombers. Meanwhile, the Dons are 1-7 on the hallowed turf this season. This defeat was far more honourable than their previous meeting with the Tigers at the ‘G in round 11 when they were hammered by 71 points. Essendon started and finished well, kicking two of the opening three goals and came home with the last four majors to slash the margin from 33 points to just nine by the final siren.

TIGERS V BOMBERS Full match coverage and stats

2. Hurley holsters Riewoldt but Caddy and Martin fire
Richmond spearhead Jack Riewoldt entered the game in a rich vein of form after bagging 10.6 against Gold Coast. Opposed to Bombers backstop Michael Hurley, Riewoldt kicked the Tigers’ first goal via an impossible-to-stop pass from Nick Vlastuin, to become outright leader in the Coleman Medal. However, that was jumping Jack’s only touch in the first term and he managed just one more goal, in the last quarter, as Hurley applied the clamps. However, Josh Caddy and Dustin Martin kicked four each, with Caddy enjoying a superb two minutes in the third term when he converted after hauling in two big marks.

WATCH Dusty dominates Dons in a devastating display

 

3. ‘The Package’ arrives just in time
Jake Stringer has had his issues getting to games in his first season as a Bomber. The former Bulldog was almost late to his Dons debut against Adelaide at Etihad Stadium when he forgot his wallet and entry ticket, and this time he was stuck in heavy traffic so he ditched his car and caught a tram to the MCG. The added stress didn't seem to affect Stringer’s performance, though, and he had an impact in his forward/midfield role, doing his best to lift his side in the second half. The powerhouse missed two early shots at goal, but won a few centre clearances and nailed a set shot from 45 metres late in the third quarter to bring the Dons back within range. 

4. Conca’s quick, classy comeback
Reece Conca’s season appeared in jeopardy when he suffered an ankle injury in round 15 but the Tigers rushed him back after just one VFL game, and it proved an inspired decision. The hard-at-it midfielder resumed as though he’d never left and was one of his team’s busiest players, gathering 21 possessions, 18 of them by three-quarter-time, along with five clearances and five tackles. Conca, 26, is due some good fortune given injuries have sidelined him for big chunks of his past four seasons and caused him to miss the chance to play in the premiership last year. He was one of the reasons the Tigers coped adequately without skipper Trent Cotchin, defender David Astbury and midfielders Dion Prestia and Kane Lambert. 

5. Battered Bomber trio rises to challenge
With the Bombers’ season on the line, there was a sense they had to roll the dice by selecting Brendon Goddard (knee), Cale Hooker (knee) and Adam Saad (concussion), and they got reasonable results in the end with the sore trio. Saad was perhaps the greatest surprise, showing all of his usual speed and adventure to be one of Essendon’s best, and Goddard’s composure and direction was also valuable in defence, but Hooker was barely sighted until the last quarter when he gave the Bombers a chance with three late goals.