ESSENDON remains in touch with the top four ahead of a potential maiden finals appearance, while Richmond's top eight hopes are hanging by a thread following the Bombers' 17-point win in the Dreamtime clash.
The Dons' firepower was too much for the under-strength Tigers, who were debuting their second train-on player for the season (Lauren Caruso) in the 8.5 (53) to 5.6 (36) loss.
TIGERS v BOMBERS Full match coverage and stats
The result sees Essendon on the same number of wins as fourth-placed Brisbane (with North Melbourne and Narrm still to play), while Richmond sits a game out of the top eight with the longest injury list in the competition.
Daria Bannister appeared to have potentially ruptured her right ACL while changing direction in the fourth term, but the Bombers are hopeful scans will only reveal minor damage. She ruptured her left ACL in 2018.
Emelia Yassir was lively early in Richmond's forward line, but Essendon gradually piled on the goals, jumping out to an 18-point lead at half-time.
It wasn't a single Bombers forward tearing the Tigers apart, either, with six individual goalscorers to the main break. It included a very excited Renee Tierney, who slotted her first and then promptly left the field for treatment after a heavy hit in the preceding marking contest.
Richmond clicked into gear in the third term, Eilish Sheerin provided plenty of run off half-back and Stella Reid and Katie Brennan pushing up high to provide contests, but they coughed up a crucial late goal to Sophie Alexander, who converted from a tight angle.
Essendon's young guns combined to open the last quarter, Amber Clarke dancing round Bec Miller on the wing and booting it long for Paige Scott to run on to, providing enough of a buffer to see the Bombers home, despite the Tigers' late flurry of points.
The contrasting styles of superstar midfielders Maddy Prespakis and Monique Conti were on show – the Tiger providing plenty of speed around the ground and darting around her opponents, while Prespakis' sharp hands round the stoppages worked wonders despite the close attention of Sarah Hosking.
Most pleasingly for Essendon, it got the win without a monster game from Bonnie Toogood, who played well in attack but didn't have to be the star of the show in a well-rounded team performance.
Meg Macdonald sat out most of the fourth term with a bleeding ear after an accidental head clash with a teammate, and Scott received some treatment for a corkie, while there may be some concerns for Prespakis after a couple of tackles that could catch the MRO's eye, first on Conti then Sarah Hosking.
A clearance thumping
At half-time, the Essendon starting trio of Maddy Prespakis, Georgia Nanscawen and Steph Cain were all over their Richmond opponents, winning the clearance count 21-5. The difference grew out to 20 at three-quarter time and sat at 17 by the final siren. It directly fed into the amount of footy the Bombers were able to get their hands on (245 to 200 disposals), spreading well around the ground and finding clear paths to goal, partially through weight of numbers.
Flipping the magnets
With eight unavailable Tigers, coach Ryan Ferguson and his team had to adapt on the run. In Caitlin Greiser's absence, Laura McClelland was swung into a key forward role, with the returning Bec Miller playing her customary defensive spot. Ruck Gab Seymour took charge of the in-form Bombers spearhead Bonnie Toogood, leaving Jemima Woods to support Poppy Kelly in the stoppages.
Richmond travels up to Cairns to face Hawthorn in a home game for the Hawks, while Essendon will host West Coast at Windy Hill.
RICHMOND 2.1 3.3 5.3 5.6 (36)
ESSENDON 4.2 6.3 7.4 8.5 (53)
Richmond: Yassir 3, Jones, McClelland
Essendon: Scott 2, Toogood, Bannister, Prespakis, Wales, Tierney, Alexander
Richmond: Conti, Sheerin, Yassir, Brennan, Seymour
Essendon: Prespakis, Nanscawen, Radford, Toogood, Wales
Richmond: Macdonald (head knock)
Essendon: Bannister (knee)
Richmond: Caitlin Greiser (thumb), replaced in selected side by Lauren Caruso
Essendon: Georgia Gee (injured), replaced in selected side by Renee Tierney
Crowd: 2,847 at IKON Park