The hallmark of Richmond’s drought-breaking premiership claimed another victim in Saturday’s opening pre-season round.
The Tigers’ frenetic pressure destroyed an understrength, but still bitterly disappointing, Essendon by 87 points, 19.10 (124) to 5.7 (37) in front of 7681 fans at Wangaratta’s Norm Minns Oval.
“I thought we saw our brand re-established, how we play as the hunter and I thought our boys showed that today,” Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said of the pressure-packed showing.
“We were probably a little stand-offish the first quarter, we weren’t quite to the level that we would have liked.
“Once the boys got up and going, it sort of becomes contagious and infectious, we started to show when we play that way, we’re hard to handle.”
Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin finished as the top possession-winner with 24, despite not playing the final quarter as planned.
“He was probably reflective of the side, a little bit slow to start, then started to come into his own,” Hardwick said of last year’s standout performer.
“(Once) he started to relax into the game, he’s such a valuable player for us.”
But the Bombers had a flying start, with former Gold Coast Suns’ player Adam Saad landing what was the goal of the match.
He started from a back flank and weaved his way through the centre, kicking a belter from almost 50 metres.
Fellow recruit Devon Smith (GWS) became the second trade player to goal after five minutes but, from there, it was all Richmond.
The Tigers kicked the next eight to blow the game apart.
Josh Begley snapped the run at the 23-minute mark of the second term, but it was only a hiccup as the premiers kicked five in the opening 10 minutes of the third term.
It resembled a training drill at times, with Martin, the tenacious Trent Cotchin and Shane Edwards combining for Jason Castagna to grab his second in three minutes.
At one stage in the final term, the lead threatened to hit triple figures, possibly eclipsing Hawthorn’s 106-point demolition of St Kilda in the 2015 pre-season.
But one of the Bombers’ best in Shaun McKernan kicked the club’s only goal of the stanza.
“I’m rapt that Shaun’s given us plenty to think about,” coach John Worsfold said.
“He showed he’s strong enough to impact from really limited opportunities, I thought he was outstanding.”
He was the only multiple goalkicker, while the Tigers Shai Bolton booted three.
“(It was) certainly a step forward, I think it’s probably one of the better games he’s played for us,” Hardwick said.
The Tigers’ Toby Nankervis, David Astbury and the Bombers’ Zach Merrett had head knocks, while big-name recruit Jake Stringer was left with a bloodied head.
ESSENDON 2.1 3.4 4.6 5.7 (37)
RICHMOND 4.5 8.6 16.8 19.10 (124)
Essendon: McKernan 2, Begley, Saad, Smith
Richmond: Bolton 3, Caddy 2, Castagna, Townsend 2, Riewoldt, Martin, Cotchin, Edwards, Ellis, Graham, Grigg, McIntosh, Short, Chol
Essendon: Heppell, McKenna, Parish, Zaharakis, McKernan
Richmond: Martin, Caddy, Cotchin, Castagna, Riewoldt, Bolton, Grigg
Essendon: Zach Merrett (head knock), Stringer (head cut)
Richmond: Nankervis, Astbury (head knock)