THERE it was.
For 60 minutes, it had been unlike Richmond. Nervous, scrambled and stagnant.
Then it turned.
Trent Cotchin laid a tackle, Dion Prestia delivered a precise pass and Tom Lynch did the rest.
Eyes on the prize: Brandon Ellis and Dylan Grimes want more silverware. Picture: AFL Photos
It took just 40 seconds of the second half to elapse, but the Tigers had found their mojo.
Five straight goals to begin the third term – sparked by Lynch's dominance in the forward line – laid the foundations for their 19-point preliminary final victory over Geelong.
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They also laid to rest any lingering feelings of 2018 regret for Richmond.
Flashbacks of this very same occasion one year ago would have undoubtedly crept into the minds of Tigers players and fans when they found themselves 21 points down at half-time.
The raging premiership favourite looked destined to again fall at the penultimate weekend.
Geelong had done everything right. It had replicated Collingwood's thought, intent and execution of preliminary final night a year ago to stop the swell of momentum in its tracks.
It just couldn't withstand the wave of Tiger attacks for long enough.
From that moment on, it was the Tigers' spot in the Grand Final to grasp. And unlike last year, grasp it they did – easing to a nervous, yet rapturous 12.13 (85) to 9.12 (66) win.
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Lynch was key to it all. His arrival at Punt Road as last season's most high-profile free agent seemed destined to bring Richmond more premiership success. Next week, he'll now get the opportunity to make that picture many Tigers fans dreamed of 12 months ago a reality.
His five goals on Friday night came from 19 disposals and 10 marks in an emphatic performance that also featured 12 score involvements and four strong contested grabs.
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He kept Richmond in it when Geelong stormed clear and reaped the late benefits.
Bachar Houli (32 disposals, 11 marks) was also a classy contributor, while Prestia (28 disposals, two goals) was the man to spark things from the centre after half-time.
Geelong's first-half dominance had been conjured via the remarkable skill of Tim Kelly.
The subject of ongoing trade speculation, Kelly was determined for Friday night to not be his last in a Cats jumper, kicking three goals from 31 disposals in an influential display.
But the relentless and holistic nature of Richmond's pressure around the ball, its run off half-back and its strength up forward was enough to overwhelm his Cats counterparts.
This had been bound to be a nailbiter from the moment the two sides entered the arena.
The roar of Richmond's arrival would have been enough to send shivers down Geelong spines. It meant the popular belief resonating around a packed MCG was that it would be pivotally important for the Cats to therefore weather the impending Tiger storm.
Rather, they stoked the flames.
Gary Ablett kicked the game's first, Richmond responded with three in three minutes, Kelly answered back, then Gryan Miers chimed in to give Geelong the ascendency.
Having announced himself with a seven-goal haul for the Geelong Falcons in a TAC Cup Grand Final nearly two years ago to the day, Miers followed through on his junior reputation as a big-game player with seven disposals and two late goals to quarter-time alone.
It added to a pulsating, gripping and thoroughly entertaining quarter of football.
A solitary kick in front at the first change, the Cats sought to quickly extend their advantage.
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Kelly continued to stamp his authority on the contest, kicking a brilliant second goal, before Quinton Narkle was the beneficiary of some good fortune to stretch the lead further.
All the while, Tigers were dropping like flies.
Jack Graham dislocated his shoulder and spent a significant period off the field, while Dustin Martin copped a nasty corkie, before Cotchin limped off with a leg problem.
The result was a disjointed Richmond performance and a 21-point half-time deficit.
To make matters worse, a contentious 50m penalty on the stroke of the break – putting Patrick Dangerfield to the goal line – only served to enrage the Tiger faithful even more.
Richmond needed a circuit-breaker. It took just 40 second-half seconds to find it.
Cotchin's tackle, Prestia's pinpoint pass, Lynch's cool set-shot.
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All of a sudden, Richmond frustration was turning into feverish determination.
The hobbled Tigers all returned to the park, Martin surged into an open goal, Jason Castagna snapped truly and Lynch shot through his fourth after another strong grab.
Dustin Martin marks in front of Mark Blicavs. Picture: AFL Photos
Within 20 minutes of the restart, Richmond had snatched the lead.
Five straight Richmond goals had threatened to break the backs of Geelong, before Lachie Henderson's goal on the stroke of three-quarter time ensured the game remained alive.
However, Kane Lambert strolling into an open goal, combined with Lynch's fifth via an uncontested mark from close-range, would have eased any Tiger nerves that had created.
Prestia's bomb moments later, his second of the night, sealed the deal.
For the second time in three seasons, Richmond will be heading to the Grand Final.
RICHMOND 3.3 4.5 9.7 12.13 (85)
GEELONG 4.3 7.8 8.9 9.12 (66)
Richmond: Lynch 5, Martin 2, Castagna 2, Prestia 2, Lambert
Geelong: Kelly 3, Miers 2, Ablett, Narkle, Dangerfield, Henderson
Richmond: Lynch, Houli, Prestia, Martin, Edwards, Cotchin, Ellis
Geelong: Kelly, Selwood, Dangerfield, O'Connor, Stanley, Miers, Tuohy
Fans' Best on Ground, in partnership with Google: Dustin Martin
Richmond: Graham (shoulder), Broad (concussion)
Umpires: Nicholls, Chamberlain, Ryan
Official crowd: 94,423 at the MCG