Two last-quarter goals from Kane Lambert – one a fluke and one a ripper – have seen the Tigers down minor premiers Port Adelaide by six points and powered Richmond to their third grand final in four years.
Coming into the fourth quarter holding just a two-point lead, the visitors fell behind early when Power spearhead Charlie Dixon kicked a marvellous set shot from 51 metres out on the angle. But stout defending, and two majors from Lambert, ensured the Tigers would hold the lead when it counted.
Lambert’s first came from a throw-in, deep in forward 50 for the Tigers. With players everywhere scrambling for the ball, the 28-year-old just threw a grubber on the boot and it evaded several shins to dribble over the line and restore Richmond’s lead.
Several minutes later, he was the beneficiary of a somewhat controversial deliberate out of bounds free kick paid against Hamish Hartlett, but he made the most of it, unleashing a picture-perfect snap to put his side out by two kicks.
Peter Ladhams converted a free kick for the Power to bring the margin back to under a goal, but they couldn’t mount another challenge. Toby Nankervis took a great contested mark in defence with a minute left to just about seal it, before they held on for the remaining seconds to reach their third decider in four seasons.
Richmond gave Port Adelaide a taste of their own medicine, especially in the second half. After heading into the sheds down 20-13 in the clearances, the normally contested possession-averse Tigers took it right up to the bigger-bodied Port midfielders in the second stanza and won the clearance count 28-9 – 12-5 in the third quarter and an unfathomable 16-4 in the last.
Trent Cotchin and Dion Prestia – who both missed Richmond’s home-and-away loss to the Power – led the way with five each, while David Astbury, Shai Bolton, Jack Graham, Dustin Martin, Kamdyn McIntosh, Toby Nankervis and Marlion Pickett all had three.
Nankervis was close to best-on-ground, with the ruckman racking up a match-high ten tackles to go with his 13 touches and 19 hit-outs. Martin was excellent with 21 touches and two first-half goals, while Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt both kicked one each in otherwise quieter nights.
For Port Adelaide, they just looked slightly off all night. They were slower to the ball, got beaten badly in the ground ball, looked rusty and sloppy when they did have it and, ultimately, just missed too many targets. Ollie Wines tried his hardest with 24 disposals and four clearances, Brad Ebert had 18 touches, seven tackles and two great defensive displays in the last quarter before going with a concussion, while Connor Rozee looked lively in the first half and kicked two goals.
But too many of their midfielders had disposal efficiencies under 60 per cent, including Wines (58.3), Travis Boak (50) and Robbie Gray (52.6). Dixon was also well-held all evening, having little impact beyond his fourth-quarter goal.
The Tigers will now play either Brisbane or Geelong in the grand final next weekend at The Gabba, aiming to win consecutive premierships for the first time since they saluted in 1973 and 1974.
Port Adelaide – 2.3 | 3.3 | 4.4 | 6.4 (40)
Richmond – 2.1 | 3.3 | 4.6 | 6.10 (46)
Power: Rozee 2, Duursma, Lycett, Dixon, Ladhams
Tigers: Martin 2, Lambert 2, Riewoldt, Lynch