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Tigers secure double chance, deny Lions minor premiership

Highlights: Richmond v Brisbane The Tigers and Lions clash in round 23

LET'S do it again.

Richmond got the honours over Brisbane on Sunday, but the Lions will have the Gabba on their side when the clubs meet in a qualifying final in two weeks.

That's the upshot of their round 23 meeting, which was played with a finals-like atmosphere with a home ground advantage on the line.

Ivan Soldo and Lachie Neale compete for the ball. Picture: AFL Photos

The Tigers won 12.10 (82) to 8.7 (55) but needed a 10-goal win to leapfrog the Lions on the ladder and move into second spot.

The Lions made sure that wasn't going to happen, putting in an impressive performance on the road but ultimately not doing enough to stop Richmond from recording its ninth-straight win.

This was no dress rehearsal. Richmond threw the first punch, the heavyweight landing the early hits.

But the upstart Lions managed to land a couple of blows, too, and although the Tigers walked away victors, Brisbane will also have left with confidence about their return bout in a fortnight.

TIGERS DENY LIONS Full match report and stats

Richmond's defence was crucial to the win. Dylan Grimes, who overcame an ankle injury, held Brisbane gun Charlie Cameron to seven disposals, Nick Vlastuin dominated in the air, and Bachar Houli (30 disposals) and Liam Baker (20) were also effective.

Dustin Martin will hit September in brilliant form after 21 disposals and two goals, Jack Riewoldt kicked four first-term goals, while captain Trent Cotchin (15 disposals) returned from three weeks out with a hamstring complaint and got through unscathed.

But Brisbane won't be too perturbed. After a slow start, the Lions grew into the game's intensity and can take confidence from their midfield dominance.

Star recruit Lachie Neale strengthened his Brownlow Medal credentials with a career-best 51 disposals and 14 clearances.

Neale was extraordinary, powering his team to a clear win in that area of the game (48 to 32 clearances and 14 to eight out of the centre).

He combined with Hugh McCluggage (28 touches and one goal) and Dayne Zorko (27 and two goals) to drive plenty of Brisbane's work.

The Lions' nine-game winning streak was broken in front of 76,995 fans (the biggest ever home and away crowd for Brisbane) but they were in the hunt throughout and had some other clear winners.  

Harris Andrews outdid Tigers star forward Tom Lynch, and Darcy Gardiner, when moved to Riewoldt after half-time, also performed well.

Riewoldt's rampage started early. The Richmond star was dominant in the first quarter, on the end of some brilliant passes from Tigers teammates.

Brisbane defender Marcus Adams had no answer for Riewoldt, who was too canny on the lead and strong in the air, and could have even had five before quarter-time if not for a fumble close to goal.

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The Lions looked nervous. A couple of simple dropped marks opened up opportunities for the Tigers, who had built a 25-point lead at quarter time.

They steadied in the second term, but couldn't make any inroads on the scoreboard.

Brisbane was commanding in the midfield. The Lions, led by Neale who registered 25 disposals and eight clearances in the first half, had nearly doubled the Tigers in clearances (24 to 13) and were winning the ball out of the centre.

But their forward entries were rushed, playing into the hands of Richmond's disciplined and dogged defence.

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Importantly, the Lions had shut down Richmond's scoring run, with only two goals apiece in the second term.

That was vital, given the percentage battle between the second and third-placed sides on the ladder.

But the Lions were clearly not thinking about losing margins. A win was still on their mind. Two snapped goals to Zorko in the opening four minutes of the third term cut the Lions' deficit to 14 points and they had picked up their running game, beginning to link up out of defence and create space.

And when Cameron, who had been blanketed for the day, beat Grimes in a one-on-one and ran into an open goal, Brisbane's surge had caught fire.

But Richmond doesn't roll over. And after Cotchin showed some speed to help set up goals to Lynch and Kane Lambert and, the Tigers' buffer was lifted back at 19 points at the final change.

It was almost sealed five minutes into the last quarter, when Martin produced a moment of magic.

In the Tigers' forward pocket at the Punt Road end, the superstar midfielder shrugged off two lunging Brisbane tacklers, steadied and curled around a goal to push his side 25 points ahead and send Richmond fans into a frenzy. You get the sense he's got more to come, too.  

MEDICAL ROOM
Richmond: The Tigers appeared to get through without any injury concerns.

Brisbane: Similarly for the Lions, their good run with injury continues and leaves them in a healthy spot in their return to the finals. 

NEXT UP
It's Brisbane's turn to host the Tigers, with their qualifying final clash to be held at the Gabba in two weeks after the Lions' brilliant rise up the ladder into second place.

RICHMOND     6.2       8.6       10.7     12.10 (82)
BRISBANE       2.1       4.4       7.6       8.7 (55)

GOALS
Richmond:
Riewoldt 4, Lambert 2, Martin 2, Rioli, Castagna, Lynch, Ellis
Brisbane: Cameron 2, Zorko 2, McCluggage, McInerney, Hipwood, Robinson

BEST
Richmond: 
Vlastuin, Grimes, Martin, Houli, Short, Lambert
Brisbane: Neale, Zorko, Andrews, McCluggage, Robinson, Rich

INJURIES
Richmond:
Nil
Brisbane: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: O'Gorman, Meredith, Fleer

Official crowd: 76,995 at the MCG