Richmond has surged from 42 points behind to secure a remarkable victory over the Brisbane Lions at the MCG.
In Sunday’s other matches, Gold Coast beat West Coast by three points, while Essendon defeated COVID-ravaged North Melbourne by eight goals.
After conceding the first six goals to be down for most of the clash against the Lions, the Tigers grabbed the lead at the 16-minute mark of the final quarter.
Both sides traded blows for the dying stages, with veteran Mitch Robinson missing a gilt-edged opportunity to put the Lions back in front after earning a free-kick from 15 meters out.
A calamitous error from defender Darcy Gardiner allowed returning Tigers star Tom Lynch to nail his fourth goal and the matchwinner in the final minute.
The Tigers ended a three-match winless run to win 15.14 (104) to 14.13 (97) in Shane Edwards’ 300th senior appearance.
Importantly for Richmond, it gives the ninth-placed Tigers a huge shot at playing finals this year with a favorable last three matches of the season.
But for the Lions it is a major blow to their top-four aspirations and any confidence they would have gained out of a first win at the MCG since 2014.
Chris Fagan’s team had lost 10 straight matches at the venue heading into the match but appeared to be on track to end the hoodoo after producing a hot start.
They led by 42 points during the second term and still held a six-goal buffer at half-time.
But Richmond produced scintillating football reminiscent of their premiership era, largely thanks to Shai Bolton, Lynch and emerging youngster Noah Cumberland.
After playing on last week as the siren went and Richmond drew with Fremantle, Cumberland stepped up with a career-best five-goal haul in a breakout performance.
Cumberland kept the Tigers in the contest early, kicking their first three goals as the Lions piled on majors from the other end.
Richmond co-captain Dylan Grimes was left devastated after hurting his hamstring in the third quarter.
Lions dynamo Zac Bailey was sent for scans on a chest injury after being subbed out in the second quarter, bringing ruckman Darcy Fort into the match.
The Lions were rocked before the match when in-form defender Brandon Starcevich withdrew due to quad tightness, with former Geelong utility Nakia Cockatoo the replacement.
The Tigers travel to face Port Adelaide next Saturday night, while the Lions are back at the Gabba to take on Carlton on Sunday.
Stringer fires for Bombers
Jake Stringer kicked five goals to help Essendon to a 48-point win over North Melbourne.
The Bombers posted their highest score of the year in the 17.12 (114) to 9.12 (66) victory at Docklands, making it five wins from their past seven matches,
Stringer was busy early, igniting Essendon with three first-quarter goals.
And though his scoreboard impact cooled through the middle stages, his influence on the match was telling.
I have finished with 14 disposals, six tackles and a match-high 11 score involvements.
Stringer kicked 5.3 — just one goal shy of a career-best tally — including two majors from four shots in the final term.
The Kangaroos dominated clearances (42-22) and had more inside-50s than their opponents in the first three quarters but were far less efficient going forward.
Cam Zurhaar was a threat in attack for the Kangaroos, finishing with four goals, but spearhead Nick Larkey (0.3) struggled with poor delivery and was held goalless by Brandon Zerk-Thatcher.
Jy Simpkin (40 disposals), Jaidyn Stephenson (32) and Luke Davies-Uniacke (23) worked hard in a losing cause.
Essendon was best served by Zach Merrett (37 disposals, eight clearances), Mason Redman (32 disposals) and Nick Hind (22), while tall swing-man James Stewart played forward and kicked three goals — his first scores in two years.
Already hit hard by COVID-19, North Melbourne lost Lachie Young and Jack Mahony as late withdrawals before the bounce.
The pair joined teammates Aidan Corr, Paul Curtis and Aaron Hall on the sidelines through virus protocols.
Essendon also suffered a late blow when Dylan Shiel was ruled out with a hamstring issue.
Suns Edge Eagles
A career-best five-goal haul by Gold Coast’s Mabior Chol in his 50th AFL match has secured the Suns a vital win over West Coast.
The home side held off the fast-finishing Eagles to keep their slim finals hopes alive, Mal Rosas Jnr’s sealer with 15 seconds to play securing the 16.11 (107) to 16.8 (104) win at Metricon Stadium.
The Eagles kicked seven goals to three in the final term to nearly pinch the win, having trailed by 31 points early in the fourth quarter.
Chol scored five goals while livewire small forward Izak Rankine had three majors, with Rosas and Jeremy Sharp kicking two each for the Suns.
Jack Darling kicked an equal career-best six goals for the Eagles, with Jack Petruccelle ending with three and Liam Ryan and Jack Redden two apiece.
Suns co-captain Touk Miller was again the best performer for the hosts with 31 disposals, 16 clearances and 10 tackles.
West Coast rookie Jai Culley had a day to forget, elbowing Suns midfielder Noah Anderson in the head in the second quarter and then limping off in the fourth with a hamstring injury.
The Eagles started brightly with Darling and Jack Redden kicking the visitors to an early lead before the Suns fired back with five unanswered goals to be 16 points clear at the first break.
West Coach coach Adam Simpson would’ve rolled his team bombing a couple of good chances to score, with Ryan and Connor West guilty.
Gold Coast extended their lead to 37 points when Sharp kicked the Suns’ 10th in the second term, before Ryan’s running goal cut the margin to 30 at the main break.
Culley added to the Eagles’ woes with the elbow on Anderson which will almost certainly catch the eye of the Match Review Officer.
Two goals to Darling and another by Petruccelle reduced the margin to 13 points as the Eagles came out of the sheds firing for the third term.
Anderson’s clever pick-up and carry before finishing settled the hosts, with Sharp capping some good work by Rankine to keep the Eagles at arm’s length heading into the final quarter.
Rankine was denied a fourth by ARC after a sensational snap from the boundary was ruled to have shaved the post.
That ruling didn’t cost the Suns, however, with Chol slotting his third after the siren after a hanger of a mark to make the margin 25 points at the end of the third quarter.
Chol and Darling traded goals at the start of the final quarter before an athletic mark on the behind line by Ryan allowed the livewire Eagles forward to kick his second and keep the visitors in the hunt.
Darling’s sixth of the day cut the margin to 13 points before Petruccelle kicked his third on the run to put the contest on a knife’s edge.
When Redden soccered through at the back of a pack from close range, Gold Coast’s lead had been whittled to just two points with little more than eight minutes to play.
Chol’s fifth gave the Suns breathing space after Jake Waterman kicked a shot straight into the player on the mark, in costly miss for the Eagles.
Waterman cut the margin to less than a goal with under a minute left but Rosas’ finish ensured Eagle Jamaine Jones’ effort on the siren was mere consolation.