Essendon have moved to the top of the AFL ladder following a hard-fought 19-point victory over a wasteful Richmond in the Dreamtime clash at the MCG on Saturday night.
The Bombers booted 12 goals in a dominant first half and led by as many as 42 points in the third quarter, but the Tigers remarkably came back to snatch the lead midway through the final term.
However, Essendon booted the final three goals of the match to seal the 19.14 (128) to 15.19 (109) victory.
Captain Jobe Watson was sensational with 30 touches and two goals while Brent Stanton continues to rack up big numbers with 29 as well as three crucial goals.
Up forward, it was fitting that indigenous trio Paddy Ryder, Leroy Jetta and Alwyn Davey shared eight goals between them.
Ryder had three in the first term, on his way to four for the match while Jetta and Davey booted two each.
Cale Hooker and Jake Carlisle were also brilliant in defence with Jack Riewoldt and Brad Miller managing just one goal each.
For the Tigers, Brett Deledio was close to the best player on the ground with a staggering 35 possessions, as well as seven marks and 10 tackles.
Trent Cotchin was also brilliant gathering 29 classy touches and three goals up forward, while Shane Edwards also booted three – including two in the final term when the Tigers hit the front.
But it was a case of what might have been with Richmond not converting their opportunities as they finished the game with an incredible 18 more inside 50s.
The Tigers made a flying start with Dustin Martin converting a brilliant snap inside the first minute, but the opening quarter belonged to Ryder.
He immediately had the Bombers on the front foot with a pair of goals in the space of five minutes before adding his third for the term on the run minutes later.
Essendon opened up a handy three-goal lead after Watson converted following a strong mark, but Richmond stayed in touch thanks to Riewoldt, who threaded the eye of a needle with a magnificent set shot on the boundary line.
With key Richmond defender Dylan Grimes leaving the field midway through the second term with a hamstring injury, the Bombers blew the game open with a dominant period.
Jetta and Watson got the ball rolling with early goals and while Cotchin and Martin kept the Tigers in it, the Dons were far too strong with another three majors late in the term.
Stanton booted two of them – including a pearler from beyond 50 – while Angus Monfries also got in on the act as the Tigers wasted chance after chance down the other end.
When Ryder booted the first of third term, the Bombers extended their advantage to seven goals and looked all but home.
However, the Tigers suddenly came alive to completely dominate the quarter with four of the next five goals.
Stanton steadied for the Bombers on the back of a 50m penalty following a harsh holding the ball decision, but Richmond were not about to throw in the towel just yet.
They managed five goals for the term, but eight misses proved costly as Ben Howlett nailed a major on the run to give Essendon a 23-point lead at the final change.
A brilliant snap from Edwards followed by a goal to Cotchin inside two minutes had the Tigers up and about and when the same two players booted another goal each they were suddenly in front.
Nathan Lovett-Murray, who came on for the injured Dustin Fletcher, then bobbed up with a cracking snap before Monfries capitalised on a rare error from Cotchin.
The Tigers threw everything at the Bombers in the closing stages, but a goal to Davey with three minutes left finally sealed the victory.
ESSENDON: 6.2, 12.7, 16.9, 19.14 (128)
RICHMOND: 4.2, 6.8, 11.16, 15.19 (109)
GOALS: Essendon: Ryder 4, Stanton 3, Watson 2, Jetta 2, Monfries 2, Davey 2, Crameri, Howlett, Lovett-Murray
Richmond: Edwards 3, Cotchin 3, Martin 2, Grigg 2, Nahas, Riewoldt, Miller, Deledio, Jackson
BEST: Essendon: Watson, Stanton, Ryder, Carlisle, Hooker, Howlett
Richmond: Deledio, Cotchin, Grigg, Maric, Edwards, Martin
INJURIES: Essendon: Fletcher (adductor)
Richmond: Grimes (hamstring)
UMPIRES: Rosebury, Stewart, Bannister
CROWD: 80,900 at the MCG