RICHMOND will have a double chance for its premiership defence.
The Tigers needed only to beat suddenly in-form bottom side Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Saturday evening to secure a top-four berth for the fourth season in a row.
CROWS v TIGERS Full match coverage and stats
Damien Hardwick's men didn't always have it their own way – and benefited early from accurate goalkicking from not-always-easy shots – but were never threatened on their way to a 44-point victory.
The Crows' defeat consigned them to the first wooden spoon in their history, although with the silver lining of this year's No.1 draft pick.
Richmond set up the 12.5 (77) to 4.9 (33) triumph with five consecutive goals overlapping the second and third quarters that finally broke Adelaide and rewarded the Tigers for their territory dominance.
The Crows managed only two goals after quarter-time to Richmond's nine, following a competitive opening.
As important as the Tigers clinching third spot was the further re-introduction of key members after long stints out of the side.
Premiership players Shane Edwards (personal) and David Astbury (knee) hadn't been in this side since rounds five and four, respectively, but both made successful returns on Saturday.
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Edwards was particularly sharp and one of the best players afield, amassing an equal-game-high eight clearances and 12 contested possessions.
They still have Tom Lynch (hamstring), Shai Bolton (corked calf) and Dion Prestia (ankle) to potentially return for their first final in a fortnight's time, so positions will be tight.
What was impressive again for Richmond was its even spread of contributors, with Dustin Martin offsetting his 12 turnovers with 28 disposals, 16 contested possessions and six score involvements.
Jayden Short was at his penetrating best in defence, Jack Graham's form resurgence continued and Kane Lambert performed better as the night went on.
Bullocking ruckman Reilly O'Brien served Adelaide well and took the honours in his match-up with Toby Nankervis, while the Crouch brothers – particularly Brad (eight clearances) – toiled away in the centre.
Tigers on Caddy watch
Spots will be at a premium at Richmond in a fortnight's time for the club's qualifying final against Brisbane or Port Adelaide. Shane Edwards and David Astbury made their long-awaited returns against Adelaide, but none of Shai Bolton, Tom Lynch or Dion Prestia played. Prestia is pushing to be ready for the finals, while Lynch and Bolton should both be fit. Josh Caddy also came in for Saturday's match for his first appearance since round 11, but a knee injury in an innocuous second term incident couldn't have been worse timing for him. Caddy, who goaled from a magnificent 50m-plus strike in the opening quarter, managed to return early in the third term and will be desperate to keep his spot. He shook off Andrew McPherson to slot his second goal from point-blank range not long after being back on the field.
The Texan climbs to the top
It's been a hectic season for former Adelaide captain Taylor Walker. His form copped increased scrutiny – even by his standards – throughout the year as the Crows lost their first 13 games. In the meantime, Walker played his 200th game and he achieved another milestone on Saturday. Returning from a leg injury that kept him out of last week's win over Carlton, the 30-year-old received a free kick in the first quarter and steered through his 441st career goal. Walker went past club great Tony Modra in the process to move into the outright lead for total goals in Adelaide history. Modra's tally came in 85 fewer games, but he was, of course, a stay-at-home full-forward in a vastly different era. Walker's been a mighty player for the Crows and one of the AFL's best forwards in his prime. He's contracted for next season, so his career is likely to extend for at least one more year. Walker's feat came on the same day Daniel Talia brought up match No.200 himself.
Tit for tat between rival stars
Tempers flared during the third quarter after Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin conceded a contact-below-the-knees free kick to Brad Crouch. A frustrated Cotchin then shoved Crouch while he was still on his back, prompting the Crow to swipe back at him with his left hand – fortunately without connecting. However, that didn't matter to Cotchin or his big teammate Toby Nankervis, who grabbed Crouch by the back of his jumper and rubbed his face into the dirt. The umpire paid a 50m penalty and fireworks broke out around them as both clubs took exception to what had just gone on.
ADELAIDE 2.2 2.4 3.5 4.9 (33)
RICHMOND 3.0 5.0 9.5 12.5 (77)
Adelaide: Fogarty 2, McAdam, Walker
Richmond: Aarts 2, Caddy 2, Riewoldt 2, Martin, McIntosh, Chol, Rioli, Lambert, Castagna
Adelaide: O'Brien, B.Crouch, M.Crouch, Lynch, Laird, Smith
Richmond: Edwards, Martin, Short, Graham, Lambert, Vlastuin
Adelaide: Brown (hamstring)
Richmond: Caddy (knee), Aarts (shoulder)