Alwyn Davey jnr celebrates a goal during the round 10 clash between Essendon and Richmond at the MCG on May 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

SAM DURHAM may have got his start with Richmond's VFL side, but the Essendon defender sunk his former team with a goal in the final seven seconds, snapping a 13-game losing streak for the Bombers with a one-point win.

A pitch invader held up the final bounce of the game, but the Bombers were home after a see-sawing affair, saluting 10.11 (71) to 10.10 (70).

Zach Merrett was superb with 39 disposals and five clearances, Essendon ending a four-match losing streak while the Tigers once again fell agonisingly short.

BOMBERS v TIGERS Full match coverage and stats

Durham kicked two final-quarter goals, Judson Clarke's lunging soccer looked to have got the Tigers' home and Rhyan Mansell was unable to kick his third, his set shot sailing out on the full in a frantic final five minutes.


The Indigenous Tiger Mansell had booted the first goal of the game after a free kick, and it took Essendon eight minutes to record a single inside 50, but the Tigers didn't capitalise on their early dominance.

Sam Weideman took full advantage of two free kicks to kick consecutive goals, and the Bombers ended up with a two-point advantage at the first break, despite being 12 down on the inside 50 count.


Richmond seemed a tall target short in the continued absence of Tom Lynch, not adapting to lower its entries into attack as it has done in the past, much to the delight of intercept defenders Jordan Ridley and Mason Redman.

After a frustrating series of misses from both sides, with six consecutive points kicked between them across the second term, Dustin Martin broke the game open temporarily with a trademark snap.


The Bombers were able to successfully execute a kick-mark game throughout, the Tigers letting them move the ball up the ground with relative ease.

Shai Bolton – who became the 100th Indigenous player to notch up 100 games on Saturday night – came to the fore with two consecutive goals in the third term, including a special soccer right on the boundary line amid a steady drizzle.


Nick Hind made a crucial, lunging spoil on the three-quarter time siren after a Dustin Martin snap, limiting the damage to 12 points at the final break after Bolton's brace.

It took the margin out to a game-high 12 points after a very gritty two-and-a-half quarters.

Merrett was immense throughout the game for Essendon, finding the ball at will and a key link piece throughout, while Ridley and Redman patrolled the air beautifully.


Tim Taranto's fine first Richmond season continued, Jack Ross had one of his best games for the year to date on the wing and Bolton and Martin did everything they could to drag the Tigers over the line.

Dylan Shiel was a late withdrawal not due to last week’s ankle injury, but a corked calf suffered in the same incident, while Alwyn Davey jnr received treatment on his shoulder in the second term, but played out the game.

Yiooken winner Merrett’s big night out
The integral Bomber was simply superb throughout the game, and the Tigers could not stop Essendon’s skipper. He’d racked up an astonishing 30 disposals by three-quarter time, and finished with 39, eight marks, 679m gained and five clearances. Merrett just did not stop running from the first bounce to the final siren, keeping a steady head in a sometimes scrappy affair, and leading the Bombers to a long-awaited victory over Richmond.

Zach Merrett leads his side onto the ground before the round 10 clash between Essendon and Richmond at the MCG on May 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Dusty's Bomber dreams
The Tigers superstar has an excellent record against Essendon, averaging his third-highest disposal tally against a side, and fifth-highest goal average to boot. He continued to loom large for the Bombers, kicking the opening goal of the fourth term, his second after a major before half-time. While he didn't rack up the numbers of old, playing primarily across half-forward, his impact was still telling.


A night of thanks and celebration
The annual Dreamtime at the G match is a must-watch highlight in the football calendar. With the theme "moments forged by First Nations", the pre-match show featured performances by Fred Leone, Mo'Ju and dance groups Djirri Djirri, Bandok Tati and Dreamtime Contemporary Dancers, supported by a light show. Essendon legend Michael Long stole the show at half-time, performing with the Archie Roach band and Kevin Sheedy. Pre-game, seven Indigenous players from the two sides (including the injured Maurice Rioli) finished the Dreamtime Dance, arm-in-arm. Together.



Yiooken Award voting

Zach Merrett (Essendon) – 12 votes (3,3,3,3)
Tim Taranto (Richmond) – 4 votes (2,2)
Shai Bolton (Richmond) – 3 votes (1,2)
Jordan Ridley (Essendon) – 3 votes (1,1,1)
Daniel Rioli (Richmond) - 2 votes (2)

Judges Voting (in order of their 3, 2, 1 votes):

Shaun Burgoyne – Channel 7 (Chair): Zach Merrett (Essendon), Shai Bolton (Richmond), Jordan Ridley (Essendon).
Sarah Black – AFL Media: Zach Merrett (Essendon), Tim Taranto (Richmond), Jordan Ridley (Essendon).
Charlie King – ABC: Zach Merrett (Essendon), Daniel Rioli (Richmond), Jordan Ridley (Essendon).
William Gumbula – Yolngu Radio: Zach Merrett (Essendon), Tim Taranto (Richmond), Shai Bolton (Richmond).

Yiooken is a word from the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people which means ‘dreaming’.

ESSENDON      4.1     5.7     6.10     10.11 (71)
RICHMOND     3.5     6.6     8.10     10.10 (70) 

Essendon: Weideman 2, Durham 2, A. Davey, Snelling, Menzie, Langford, Stringer, Menzie
Richmond: Bolton 2, Mansell 2, Martin 2, Ryan, Taranto, Graham, Clarke 

Essendon: Merrett, Ridley, Redman, McGrath, Durham
Richmond: Taranto, Bolton, Martin, Ross, Rioli 

Essendon: A.Davey (shoulder)
Richmond: Nil

Essendon: Dylan Shiel (injury), replaced in selected side by Will Snelling
Richmond: Nil

Essendon: Massimo D'Ambrosio (replaced Andrew Phillips at three-quarter time)
Richmond: Judson Clarke (replaced Thomson Dow in the third quarter)

Crowd: 78,300 at the MCG