IF RICHMOND could have picked a night to play without a ruckman, it was this one.
The Tigers entered Saturday night's Dreamtime at the 'G clash against Essendon missing first-choice big man Toby Nankervis through injury and suspended back-up Ivan Soldo.
But with teeming rain for the first half at the MCG, and slippery conditions thereafter, any advantage the Bombers could have enjoyed in the dry was gone.
TIGERS HANG ON IN WET Full match coverage and stats
And it left the Tigers, armed with a fleet of small forwards, a strong-bodied midfield and a dependable back half, to run away with a strong 22-point win.
Conditions suited the Tigers as much as they hurt the Bombers in the 10.13 (73) to 6.14 (50) victory, which was Richmond's sixth win from its past seven games.
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.
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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.
Captain Dyson Heppell (26 disposals) was solid while Kyle Langford chipped in with three second-half goals, but the defeat was worsened by hamstring injuries to Stringer and star recruit Dylan Shiel.
Richmond held Essendon to its third goalless first quarter of the season, but the Tigers weren't much better, 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.
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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: Tom Lynch missed the last quarter with a corked calf.
Essendon: Stringer left the field in the second term with a left hamstring complaint and didn't return. His likely absence will add to the mass of injuries to the Bombers' forward line, which is already missing Joe Daniher (groin), Devon Smith (knee) and Orazio Fantasia (quad). Dylan Shiel received treatment in the changerooms early in the fourth term and missed the last quarter with a suspected hamstring concern.
Richmond will be expected to continue its winning run next Friday night when it plays North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium. Essendon faces arch rival Carlton at the MCG on Sunday, with the Blues a bogey team for the Bombers in recent years.
RICHMOND: 1.2 4.7 8.11 10.13 (73)
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
Richmond: Houli, Martin, Edwards, Baker, Prestia, Vlastuin
Essendon: Parish, Heppell, Bellchambers, Shiel
Richmond: Lynch (calf)
Essendon: Jake Stringer (hamstring), Shiel (hamstring)
Umpires: Donlon, Foot, Meredith
Official crowd: 80,176 at the MCG