RICHMOND threatened to blow another big lead before rallying to hold off Port Adelaide to move into the top eight with a thrilling 12-point victory at the MCG on Thursday night.
The Tigers, who surrendered a 33-point lead in their last game against Sydney, led by as much as 26 points in the second term, yet the Power got their noses ahead after Sam Powell-Pepper's goal early in a see-sawing final quarter.
TIGERS v POWER Full match coverage and stats
After Josh Gibcus had restored Richmond's lead and Shai Bolton missed a handful of golden opportunities to give the Tigers a two-kick cushion, Connor Rozee put through a running goal to close again within three points.
But Richmond's ruck superiority ultimately told, with Port having omitted its only recognised ruckman Sam Hayes, as Toby Nankervis palmed down expertly for Liam Baker to kick the winning goal in the dying minutes.
Bolton, who finished with no goals, five behinds and one out on the full, remarkably missed the sealer running into an open goal, but it didn’t matter as Richmond won 11.11 (77) to 10.5 (65).
Baker was unrelenting with a team-high 26 disposals, while Dion Prestia was tough throughout with 25 disposals including six clearances and 12 contested possessions. Debutant Judson Clarke kicked two first-quarter goals for the Tigers with his first two kicks, while Dustin Martin was quiet with only 13 touches but finished with two majors as well.
Port's methodical style meant it dominated the possession count (378-345), with Karl Amon (29 disposals), Dan Houston (26 disposals) and Ollie Wines (26 disposals) among the chief ball-winners.
Todd Marshall was outstanding for Port with three first-half goals, while Travis Boak was gallant with a game-high nine clearances and 12 contested possessions among his 25 touches. The result leaves Port with a 5-7 record and 12th on the ladder.
In a first half full of momentum swings, Port got the early jump on the Tigers with goals to Amon and Marshall, before the home side responded with the next five majors before quarter-time, with Martin getting their first with a clinical snap, before setting up Clarke's second with a pinpoint pass.
The Tigers opened up a 26-point lead early in the second with another from Kamdyn McIntosh, before the Power responded with the next three before half-time including another two from Marshall who was causing Gibcus issues.
Richmond appeared to steady after goals from Jack Riewoldt and Noah Balta to start the third but Port wouldn’t go away, kicking the next three to close within one point at the final change after Kane Farrell's long-range shot after a Hugo Ralphsmith 50m penalty, before the final-term drama.
Sickening late head knock
Port pair Zak Butters and Tom Jonas had a sickening head clash late in the final term with the game up for grabs, down by two points at the time, forcing them off the field. Both were left bloodied and seemed dazed yet returned to the field, ensuring Port wasn't left short, having already subbed out Trent Dumont to injury. The process Port took, given their relatively quick returns to the field, will be questioned given how nasty the incident appeared at first glance.
Who needs a ruckman?
Port took a gamble by not selecting a recognised ruckman for the game, with Hayes left in Adelaide, while Scott Lycett remains sidelined with a long-term shoulder injury. But the Power battled manfully around stoppages despite a significant hitout disadvantage (42-18) as Nankervis and Ivan Soldo dominated Jeremy Finlayson and Charlie Dixon in the ruck, yet they managed to get the edge in clearances (39-30).
Clarke joins extra exclusive club
Membership into the first kick, first goal club is special but it isn't exactly exclusive, so Yarra Valley Grammar product Clarke stepped it up a notch by joining the more illustrious two kicks, two goals club. The 18-year-old, who went pick 30 at last year's NAB AFL Draft, benefitted from a high Willem Drew tackle for his first, before capping off Dustin Martin's neat pass with a fine set shot from 50m. The youngster couldn't sustain his impact throughout the game but he's had a fine start.
RICHMOND 5.2 6.4 8.5 11.11 (77)
PORT ADELAIDE 2.1 5.2 8.4 10.5 (65)
Richmond: Clarke 2, Martin 2, Graham, D.Rioli, McIntosh, Riewoldt, Balta, Gibcus, Baker
Port Adelaide: Marshall 3, Amon, Dixon, Wines, Finlayson, Farrell, Powell-Pepper, Rozee
Richmond: Prestia, Baker, Cotchin, Vlastuin, Graham, Nankervis
Port Adelaide: Boak, Marshall, Houston, Amon, Wines, Burton
Port Adelaide: Dumont (calf), Jonas (head), Butters (head)
Richmond: Kane Lambert (unused)
Port Adelaide: Martin Frederick (replaced Dumont in the third quarter)