Tigers dent Essendon's AFL finals hopes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tigers dent Essendon's AFL finals hopes

By Roger Vaughan 26/07/2009 07:58:09 PM Comments (0)

A few days before Nathan Buckley meets with Richmond, the AFL club's caretaker coach Jade Rawlings again showed why he deserves the job full-time.

The Tigers nearly blew another opportunity, but Rawlings had clearly done his homework well as they held off Essendon for an upset five-point win on Sunday at the MCG.

The 15.11 (101) to 14.12 (96) win was Rawlings' second in six games since taking over from Terry Wallace.

Rawlings has done little wrong while in charge at Punt Road and his match-ups and structures were first-class against Essendon.

He is among about a dozen candidates for the Tigers coach, with Buckley also in contention.

It is also a credit to Rawlings that Richmond responded so well to last week's draw, when they blew a 43-point lead against North Melbourne.

"If we had been pipped ... it would have been hard to keep getting them up, hopefully it was a bit of a watershed for this group, that they can match it in big moments, big games," Rawlings said.

"We came up with what we thought were some good plans to try and negate Essendon and thankfully it was carried out."

Rawlings has also played his politics well in the last few weeks, confirming he wants the job beyond this year, but saying his main priority is to develop the team.

After his second win, he wore his heart on his sleeve a little more about how badly he wants to stay senior coach.

"You fall in love with your own and these players mean a lot to me, I'd like to think I've been able to shape what they're doing and what's going to take this footy club forward," he said.

"I'm very, very serious about coaching this footy club next year.

"I feel confident about what I do ... I think I'm improving every week and how I see things, I got a little bit uptight today at times."

Jack Riewoldt was best afield with a career-high six goals, while midfielders Ben Cousins, Brett Deledio and Trent Cotchin were outstanding.

Richmond shut down Essendon's run and it would have been an injustice had the Bombers' late rally put them over the line.

While Richmond's inability to kill off Essendon showed they have a long way to go, there were plenty of encouraging signs for the Tigers.

By contrast, Essendon lost captain Matthew Lloyd with a bruised heel and appeared to turn up thinking this would be a straightforward win.

As a result, they cling to eighth spot on percentage with five tough weeks left in the season.

"We should have (gone) harder at Richmond defensively, on our tackle and chase, we just had some slackness," said Essendon coach Matthew Knights.

"Once you get into this stage of the season, you're there to play finals ... we let a big opportunity slip."

Essendon would have come nowhere near Richmond without veteran defender Dustin Fletcher, who was easily their best player.

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