Essendon's AFL injury crisis has escalated with Jake Stringer and Dylan Shiel joining the casualty list in a 23-point loss to Richmond in the Dreamtime at the 'G game.
The Bombers threatened a late comeback before the Tigers ran out 10.13 (73) to 6.14 (50) winners in front of 80,176 fans on Saturday night at a sodden MCG.
But the injuries to Stringer and Shiel threaten to further derail the Bombers' season.
The mercurial Stringer clutched at his left hamstring late in the second quarter, left the ground and played no further part in the game.
Star recruit Shiel also went down to the Essendon rooms in the fourth quarter and re-emerged with his right hamstring iced up.
With Joe Daniher (groin) and Devon Smith (knee) out for the rest of the season, Orazio Fantasia (quad) several weeks away and the Bombers battling on four wins and six losses, it was the last thing coach John Worsfold needed.
Essendon surged to life late in the game and booted five of the last seven goals - three from Kyle Langford - but Bombers fans would have been wondering where the intensity had been for the first three quarters.
Richmond also had an injury concern with key forward Tom Lynch sitting out the last quarter with a suspected knee issue.
Bachar Houli (37 disposals, six marks) won the Yiooken Award as best-afield for his prolific performance down back as the Tigers climbed to third on the ladder.
Brownlow Medallist Dustin Martin was also superb with 35 disposals and seven clearances, as was indigenous star Shane Edwards.
Persistent showers that began hours before the game made for slippery conditions which the Tigers' small forwards appeared to relish, with Jason Castagna (two goals), Jack Higgins (two) and Liam Baker (one) all influential.
Inaccuracy had been a persistent issue for the Bombers and again they failed to finish their work, exemplified by Stringer's wayward set shot after Anthony McDonald Tipungwuti's superb rundown tackle on Martin early in the game.
With Toby Nankervis injured and Ivan Soldo suspended, the Tigers summoned debutant Callum Coleman-Jones to shoulder the ruck battle.
Coleman-Jones was well beaten by Essendon veteran Tom Bellchambers but, apart from the last quarter, the Tigers had the better of the midfield battle.
Richmond led by six goals at three-quarter time before withstanding the Bombers' comeback to claim their fifth-successive Dreamtime win.
Australian Associated Press