RICHMOND has produced the fighting performance it desperately needed with its back against the wall, ending a week of turmoil with a thrilling 15-point win against Collingwood at the MCG.
The under-siege Tigers produced some of the most committed football of their disappointing season, with a late goal to star forward Jack Riewoldt sealing the 14.8 (92) to 11.11 (77) win.
After three-and-a-half seesawing quarters, they kicked four of the last five goals of the match to transfer at least some of the pressure they have been feeling to the disappointing Pies.
Scores were tied with 10 minutes to play after improving Magpie James Aish capped a strong night with a contested mark and goal.
However, it was around that time captain Scott Pendlebury limped from the ground with a left ankle injury that would end his night and rob the Magpies' midfield of their leader.
It ultimately proved too much of a hurdle for Nathan Buckley's men, who led by 25 points early but went on to produce what the coach described as "the worst three quarters we've played all year".
The Tigers deserve credit for putting their foot on their opponents' throats at the crunch, however, with Brandon Ellis holding his nerve to kick a clutch set shot and Sam Lloyd marking late and converting.
Daniel Rioli, one of five Tigers with less than 15 games experience on Friday night, also kicked a crucial goal in the fourth quarter after the Magpies had stolen a slim lead.
Star defender Alex Rance was immense, shutting down opponent Jesse White and finishing with 26 possessions, eight marks and nine rebound 50s.
In his 150th game, gun midfielder Dustin Martin won a game-high 34 possessions, also finishing with seven clearances and a goal.
His milestone was celebrated in the Tigers' rooms with a haka performed by three friends, which could be heard through the bowels of the MCG.
Captain Trent Cotchin (28) led brilliantly in the middle and had a game-high eight clearances, while first-year Tiger Oleg Markov (26 and 10 rebounds) announced himself on the big stage.
"Our skipper was outstanding from the word go, the way he led the players and they responded and gathered around him to get a good result for us," Damien Hardwick said.
"I was just really happy for them. We have been disappointing the past two weeks, but for the players to respond and play as well as they did … it was really pleasing.
"I think our fans walk away and can be happy with the effort our guys gave."
After a horror fortnight on-field that has translated to off-field murmurings and the threat of board challenges, Richmond needed an immediate response on Friday night.
But the emergency sirens were sounding early as Collingwood piled on four unanswered goals and hunted their opponents, who were struggling to win the ball and making poor decisions when they had it.
When Riewoldt walked into the protected area after a Taylor Adams mark, setting up another Magpie goal, the margin was 25 points and a familiar story was being written after just 12 minutes.
The unlikely hero to break the deadlock was maligned forward Ty Vickery, who sparked a three-goal run for the Tigers and showcased the contested marking that interested rival clubs are now taking notice of.
Recycled midfielder Andrew Moore, mature-age rookie Adam Marcon and mid-tier midfielder Shaun Grigg all chipped in with goals and, soon enough, the Tigers had their noses in front as the game turned on its head.
They built a 13-point lead by the final change and it was enough for them to protect, giving their tortured supporters the chance to sing their famous song at the MCG at least one more time this season.
Collingwood was well served by midfielders Taylor Adams (25 possessions and six clearances), Jack Crisp (25 and six) and ruckman Brodie Grundy, who won his match-up against Shaun Hampson.
The Magpies finished the match ahead in clearances (38-27), inside 50s (48-39) and tackles (71-52), but they crumbled at important times, with Buckley lamenting off-nights for too many of his players.
"It was really disappointing. Our first 10 minutes looked great – our offence and our connection forward looked good," the coach said.
"Contested ball and clearance was in the green, and then we proceeded to play the worst three quarters that we've played all year and we were still two points up with eight minutes to play.
"We just had too many blokes that had 'mares'."
Richmond: Pre-game concerns around David Astbury's hamstring didn't amount to anything, with the defender playing out the game well. Ty Vickery played with his wrist strapped but was untroubled.
Collingwood: The outlook for Pendlebury is not good, with the skipper on crutches post-match and awaiting scans to his left ankle. Ruckman Mason Cox was able to play out the match with his shoulder strapped, but he received a lot of treatment and appeared sore.
Young Tiger has mark of a champion
Collingwood is back on the Friday night stage next week, against the Western Bulldogs, who they have not beaten since 2013. Richmond has a nine-day break before taking on Geelong, who Damien Hardwick has never beaten as coach, with the club's losing streak stretching back to 2006 and 11 games.
RICHMOND 3.0 7.3 10.7 14.8 (92)
COLLINGWOOD 5.2 6.3 8.7 11.11 (77)
Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Vickery 2, Moore, Marcon, Grigg, Drummond, Martin, Rioli, Ellis, Lloyd
Collingwood: Cox 2, Aish 2, Adams, Cloke, Crocker, Varcoe, Wills, Pendlebury, White
Richmond: Rance, Martin, Grigg, Cotchin, Markov, Riewoldt, Miles
Collingwood: Crisp, Sidebottom, Aish, Adams, Grundy, Howe
Collingwood: Cox (shoulder), Pendlebury (left ankle)
Umpires: Dalgleish, Harris, Jeffery
Official crowd: 49,122 at the MCG