RICHMOND has overcome an early deficit to win a thrilling first AFLW Dreamtime game against Essendon at ETU Stadium in Port Melbourne.
The Tigers held out a surging Bombers by two points - 3.8 (26) to 3.6 (24) - in a clash that was on the line right into the final minute on a wet and windy Sunday afternoon.
In such difficult playing conditions elite players came to the fore, and that was certainly the case with Richmond on-baller Monique Conti, who continually inspired her teammates.
Conti had 15 possessions and laid nine tackles. And she kicked a telling goal from a brilliant snapshot near the boundary line early in the third quarter to what was the most difficult end to score, given the breeze.
It seemed the Tigers had done enough to win with a six-point lead at three-quarter time and kicking to the southern end with the wind in the last term.
But Essendon threw everything at them in a bid to snatch a late victory. When Bomber Amber Clarke's quick kick bounced through the unguarded goal, it cut Richmond's lead to just one point with 68 seconds left.
At the crucial centre bounce, significantly, it was Conti who won the ball and the clearance to spear a pass to Sarah Hosking that virtually iced the game.
BOMBERS V TIGERS Full match coverage and stats
Hosking had played a critical role in the Tigers' triumph too, limiting Essendon's brilliant midfielder Maddie Prespakis to just 11 possessions while collecting 14 touches herself.
Crucial to the contest was how each team would best use the southern end.
Essendon had the chance first and took an early lead when Bonnie Toogood goaled after a high tackle, but that was their only scoreboard success with the wind despite a lopsided 11-1 inside 50 advantage.
Richmond players made better use of the breeze at their backs, particularly with Conti bursting from the centre several times to drive them deep into attack.
Courtney Wakefield twice marked at the top of the goalsquare and each time converted from close range to propel the Tigers into the lead on an afternoon when goals were rare.
Richmond ruck Gabby Seymour's hit-outs set up centre takeaways, and the Tigers were well served by the rebounding work of Tessa Lavey and Eilish Sheerin across half-back.
Dreamtime at ETU
It didn't quite have the atmosphere of the MCG, but both Essendon and Richmond can be proud of their collective effort in putting on the League's first Dreamtime Match. Spectators defied the soggy conditions to pack into ETU Stadium, and were treated to an excellent display of fast-flowing and tense football. Both sides wore never-before-seen designs on their respective Indigenous Round guernseys, with Essendon assistant coach and proud Noongar woman Kirby Bentley painting the boots of many Bombers players. Both clubs have for years shown their commitment to Indigenous Round in the men's game, and look to have transferred that passion to the women's competition.
Essendon will face Collingwood at the AIA Centre on Friday afternoon, while Richmond will take on Brisbane on Saturday morning at the Swinburne Centre ahead of the Toyota AFL Grand Final.
ESSENDON 1.3 1.3 2.6 3.6 (24)
RICHMOND 0.1 2.6 3.6 3.8 (26)
Essendon: Toogood, Bannister, Clarke
Richmond: Wakefield 2, Conti
Essendon: Cain, Wales, Prespakis, Vogt, Toogood
Richmond: Conti, Sheerin, McKenzie, Seymour, S.Hosking