RICHMOND wanted to play for Jack Riewoldt on Friday night in the champion forward's 300th game. But with his side staring down a fifth straight defeat – a result that would have gone a long way to ending the Tigers' finals hopes – it was Riewoldt who lifted again for the Tigers.
Riewoldt's six-goal celebration helped Richmond break its four-game losing streak with a significant 20-point win over Brisbane at Metricon Stadium after the Tigers overcame a string of curveballs to claim the crucial victory.
TIGERS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats
The match, which was sent from the MCG to the Gold Coast on Thursday due to Victoria's worsening COVID-19 outbreak, was also pushed back 15 minutes as both teams encountered heavy traffic on their trip down from Brisbane on Friday afternoon.
Richmond also trailed by a goal at half-time after a second quarter from the Lions that suggested the Tigers had fired their best shot early.
But the weight of challenges didn't work against the Tigers, with Riewoldt spearheading them to an important 16.10 (106) to 13.8 (86) triumph with the 32-year-old's best game of 2021.
But the win didn't come without troubles for the Tigers, who finished the game without superstar Dustin Martin, who left the field in the third term with a rib injury, and wingman Kamdyn McIntosh (hamstring).
Their flag hopes written off this week, the reigning back-to-back premiers threw another punch to jump back into the top eight. As well as Riewoldt, returning ruckman Toby Nankervis was massive with 22 disposals and 25 hitouts while Kane Lambert also came back from injury with 23 disposals.
It was an underwhelming performance from the Lions after their poor effort last week against St Kilda and is a bad blow in their bid for a top-four berth.
The signs the Tigers of old were back came early. The first term saw Richmond's pressure return, with the Tigers laying 22 first-term tackles and six inside their forward 50.
It helped them to a seven-point lead at the first change, with Tom Lynch, Martin and Riewoldt all on the board by the opening change. Lambert's run and poise was also important with 13 disposals in a busy start.
Joe Daniher's two goals in the second term steered the Lions to a five-goal-to-three quarter that saw them take a six-point lead into half-time.
Brisbane's centre-square dominance made for quick, easy entries in what was a return to the higher scores seen in the first half of the season. With Martin quiet, Brisbane's strength at stoppages flipped the contest to its advantage.
When Zac Bailey streamed in to goal early in the third quarter it looked like Brisbane was about to break Richmond's resistance, but with their season on the line the Tigers struck with back-to-back goals to cut their deficit back to three points.
But there was more to come, with Riewoldt booting three goals for the quarter to help his side to an important 11-point break at the final change. Brisbane made the Tigers nervous late in the final term before Riewoldt slotted his final major in the dying seconds, becoming the third player to boot six goals in his 300th match.
Martin was just getting going after half-time, with eight of his 15 disposals for the night coming in the third quarter. But late in the third his night ended prematurely with Martin coming off second best in a crunching collision with Brisbane hard-nut Mitch Robinson. In a fair bump as both players ran at the ball, Martin was floored by contact to his rib area. It is rare to see the superstar Tiger show pain on the field but he was on his hands and knees before struggling to the bench and heading down to the changerooms. He was ruled out of the game early in the last quarter.
No Joe show
Brisbane has been happy with Daniher's first season at the club, which has seen him kick a goal in every game so far in 2021. But with fellow key forward Eric Hipwood out of the side due to his season-ending knee injury, more responsibility fell the way of Daniher. The former Bomber's two-goal second term got the Lions moving, and he kicked a third in the final three minutes, but it was a largely quiet night for Daniher. Hipwood's replacement, Tom Fullarton, had nine disposals while Dan McStay, the Lions' other marking option in attack, booted two goals.
Chol suitors to line up
Chol's performance as a key forward was important in Richmond's victory and will keep clubs queuing up for the unrestricted free agent. Chol is out of contract and has a number of clubs tracking him closely after several seasons in and out of Richmond's first-choice line-up. But his talents as a key forward/ruckman were on show on Friday night with a career-best four goals, including a clever and athletic soccer off the ground in the first half.
RICHMOND 4.2 7.4 12.6 16.10 (106)
BRISBANE 3.1 8.4 10.7 13.8 (86)
Richmond: Riewoldt 6, Chol 4, Graham 2, Lynch 2, Bolton, Martin
Brisbane: Daniher 3, Bailey 2, Cameron 2, McCarthy 2, McStay 2, McCluggage, Robertson
Richmond: Riewoldt, Chol, Short, Bolton, Cotchin, Baker
Brisbane: McCluggage, Lyons, Bailey, Neale, Robinson
Richmond: Astbury (ankle), Martin (rib), McIntosh (hamstring)
Brisbane: McCarthy (chest)
Richmond: Ross (replaced McIntosh in the second quarter)
Brisbane: T.Berry (unused)