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Tigers win Dreamtime clash at Optus



Richmond has prevailed over Essendon for an 11th straight time, prevailing by 39 points at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.


In front of 55,656 fans, the reigning premiers kicked the last seven goals of the match to run away from a brave Bombers outfit, who lost Andrew McGrath (knee) and David Zaharakis (hamstring) to injury during the contest.


Essendon had hit the front in the final term when Alec Waterman ran in to an open goal at the 11 minute mark, but the Tigers steadied as stars Dustin Martin (27 disposals and 3 goals) and Shai Bolton (21 disposals and 3 goals) inspired a Richmond revival, saluting 19.9 (123) to 12.12 (84) on a magical night in the West.


Fans flocked to the home of football in Perth for a clash between two Victorian powerhouse clubs, celebrating indigenous culture and contribution to Australian Rules Football.


Richmond opened with the first two goals of the contest, the Dons losing key midfielder McGrath early in the contest with a left knee injury.


Brayden Ham got the Bombers on the board but the Tigers were showing their class in the opening half hour of the contest, holding a 19 point lead at the first change.


Essendon lifted their game in the second stanza as key forward Cale Hooker broke free of Noah Balta, Ham slotting his second to give Ben Rutten's side some momentum.


The Tigers had an answer though for each challenge, holding a three goal lead at the half.


That margin pushed out as far as 30 in the third term with Richmond's speed and skill looking a class above their plucky opponents, who lost veteran Zaharakis to a hamstring injury before three quarter time, joing McGrath on the bench to play no further part.


Late goals from Nick Cox and Jake Stringer gave them some hope, but when Tigers talisman Dustin Martin pounced and kicked truly in the dying stages of the quarter the margin was still 22 points to the reigning premiers.


That lead was quickly whittled away as Essendon produced an inspired burst at the start of the last quarter, kicking four goals in eleven minutes as Hooker (two) Kyle Langford and local lad Waterman all hit the scoreboard.


Just as Bombers fans were daring to dream the Tigers rose again, Jason Castagna putting his side back in front before stars Bolton and Martin shared the next three goals between them to put a stamp of class on the contest.


A seven goal stretch put the result firmly beyond doubt before the final siren, the only issue coming in the form of another hamstring concern for midfielder Dion Prestia, who has only played five matches this season due to ongoing soft tissue problems.


It did allow medical substitute Daniel Rioli to have a late impact on the clash, snapping the final goal of the contest in a fitting epitaph to the occasion and the game.


Dons midfielder Darcy Parish was simply outstanding for his side, collecting a club record 44 disposals to win the Yiooken Medal as the player best afield in the Dreamtime clash despite being on the losing side.


The win improves the Tigers win-loss record to 7-5, recording back to back wins for the first time since the opening two rounds of the season .


Essendon head in to their bye with five wins from twelve clashes, a game outside of the top eight with two matches still to be played in the round.


Richmond will return to their temporary home of Sydney for the week before arriving back in Perth next weekend for a clash with West Coast, the match moved forward as part of a rescheduled round.


IMAGE: The Australian.