DUSTIN in Martin has inspired Richmond to a gripping six-point AFL win over West Coast in an MCG clash that lived up to its billing as a grand final preview.
Martin (35 disposals, one goal) led the way as the Tigers clawed their way back to post a thrilling 13.10 (88) to 13.4 (82) victory in front of 57,415 fans.
Having led by a point at three-quarter time, the Eagles conceded the first two goals of the final term but levelled scores when Josh Kennedy kicked truly with five minutes remaining.
But in a game full of momentum swings, Tigers spearhead Jack Riewoldt landed the fatal blow when he intercepted a rebound kick and banged through his second major.
Bachar Houli was outstanding off half-back for the Tigers while Tom Lynch booted three goals, including two in the final term.
Sunday’s win lifts the Tigers to fourth on the ladder ahead of a clash with ladder-leaders Brisbane in next week’s final round of the home-and-away season.
West Coast remain third and must beat Hawthorn next week and hope other results go their way to secure a top-two finish.
In a hotly-anticipated clash 455 days in the making, last year’s premiers got off to a dominant start against the 2017 flag-winners.
The premiers’ ability to control the skies has long been a crucial part of their game – they went unbeaten in every game last season where they took at least 90 marks – and they racked up 34 marks in the opening quarter alone.
With Lewis Jetta and Brad Sheppard setting them up off half-back, the Eagles were able to activate their precision kicking game.
And they weren’t wasting anything in front of goal, Jamie Cripps’ first major shortly before quarter-time taking their scoreline to 7.0 (42).
But the Tigers, led brilliantly by Martin, showed their quality in the second term and pared back the halftime margin to nine points.
West Coast would have liked to send Mark Hutchings to Martin but the Eagles tagger was ruled out at halftime with a leg injury.
As the clouds that hovered over the MCG finally gave way to rain, Richmond started to slowly wear the Eagles down in a battle of attrition.
Again Martin was the key man, gathering a loose ball and snapping truly to reduce the margin to a point at three-quarter time.
A scare was sent through the Tigers camp when Dylan Grimes hurt his ankle in a marking contest and was helped from the ground by trainers.
But he returned to the action and the Tigers hit the lead for the first time in the game through Shai Bolton’s set-shot behind.
Eagles key defender Tom Barrass continued his forgettable day, panicking under pressure for the second time of the game and gifting a goal to his opponent Lynch before the key Tigers’ forward partner Riewoldt finished off the job.
© AAP 2019
RICHMOND 3.1 6.5 8.8 13.10 (88)
WEST COAST 7.1 8.2 9.3 13.4 (82)
Goals: Richmond: T Lynch 3 J Riewoldt 2 D Martin I Soldo J Caddy J Castagna J Short K Lambert S Bolton S Edwards. West Coast: J Cripps 3 J Darling 2 W Rioli 2 J Kennedy J Petruccelle J Waterman L Ryan O Allen T Hickey.
Best: Richmond: D Martin B Houli S Edwards D Grimes D Prestia T Lynch. West Coast: E Yeo A Gaff L Shuey L Jetta S Hurn B Sheppard.
Umpires: Jacob Mollison, Mathew Nicholls, Hayden Gavine.
Official Crowd: 57,415 at MCG.