The Richmond Tigers have booked in a home preliminary final at the MCG, defeating the Brisbane Lions for their first-ever finals win outside Victoria by 47 points at the Gabba.
Brisbane surrendered their best chance of winning the match with an inaccurate performance in front of goal in the first half, kicking five behinds each in the first and second quarters.
In the first they dominated the game in most respects and it felt like they just needed one to get confidence. It took six attempts, but they finally broke through via Charlie Cameron.
Richmond had at that point already managed the first two goals of the game, coming through Jack Riewoldt and Dustin Martin, but the Lions managed three goals in about two minutes to take the lead.
The Lions went into the first break with a two goal advantage but whatever nerves they had seemed to creep back into them and they weren’t able to add to their goal tally in the second term.
Some of their missed shots in that quarter simply defied belief, with the likes of Cam Rayner, Charlie Cameron, Oscar McInerney and Dan McStay missing gettable ones.
Absolute killers in the last five minutes saw Richmond twice in a row respond to a poor miss at one end from Brisbane with quick goals of their own, through Dustin Martin and Shai Bolton.
Brisbane seemed to lose their nerve over the halftime break and when the teams returned for the third quarter, Richmond were ruthless, kicking the next five goals in a row to take the game away from their opponents.
Brisbane were able to get a few on the board as the game went on but it was much too late. Another awful miss from Lincoln McCarthy early in the fourth summed up the night as a whole.
Dustin Martin kicked six goals, the first time a Richmond player has hit that mark in a finals match in 39 years. He was symbolic of their ability to take chances when they came up.
However arguably their most crucial player in the win was new All Australian Dylan Grimes. When the Tigers were behind the eight ball early on, he limited the damage, containing Charlie Cameron and intercepting Brisbane’s forward forays time and time again.
Shane Edwards, also, was simply sublime.
Lachie Neale was Brisbane’s best, notching another 30+ disposal performance and kicking two goals. Down back, Luke Hodge was solid as a rock in his 24th finals match.
After a frustrating season, Cam Rayner threatened to tear this one apart with some great opportunities in the first two quarters, but had two poor misses and faded out of the game after that.
Richmond are a team who love to punish their rivals’ mistakes, and in the end Brisbane simply made too many. By comparison, Richmond’s 18 goals, four behinds was the second-most accurate finals performance on record.
History will show that the Lions lost by a margin, but with just a little more poise from the home team early it could’ve easily been the other way around. A real missed opportunity.
The Tigers will now host a preliminary final in two weeks time at the MCG, set to play the winner of next Friday’s semi-final between Geelong and West Coast.
Brisbane will welcome GWS to the Gabba next week for a do-or-die semi-final, with the winner of that match surviving to take on Collingwood at the MCG in a fortnight.
The one sour note for the night from a Richmond perspective was a potential ankle injury to Daniel Rioli which seemed to trouble him in the last quarter. One to keep an eye on.
Mitch Robinson for Brisbane appeared to suffer a hamstring injury in the final term which may end his season.