RICHMOND 5.3 6.4 8.5 10.8 (68) SYDNEY 2.1 4.3 7.6 9.11 (65)
Goals: Richmond: J Riewoldt 4 B Deledio 3 A Miles D Martin N Gordon. Sydney: S Reid 2 A Goodes D Hannebery D Towers G Rohan J McVeigh K Tippett L Parker.
BEST Richmond: Cotchin, Maric, Riewoldt, Deledio, Rance, Edwards Sydney: Hannebery, Parker, Mitchell, Grundy, Malceski, Rohan.
Injuries: Sydney: L Franklin (knee soreness) replaced in selected side by Z Jones.
Umpires: Matt Stevic, Troy Pannell, Brett Rosebury.
Official Crowd: 31,227 at ANZ Stadium.
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Richmond defeated top-of-the-ladder Sydney by three points to secure a place in the finals.
There are times when eighth place is more important than first, and Sydney and Richmond proved that on Saturday night.
Sydney could have guaranteed themselves the minor premiership with victory but they had their eye on a bigger prize, and lost. They will still finish first.
Richmond played like a side with everything on the line. Early on, it proved inspiring, later like a ball and chain holding them back.
For long periods in the last quarter it seemed Richmond would shoot themselves in the foot as only Richmond can. Several times they could have won the game away but only Dustin Martin was able to rise to the challenge with a clutch goal.
In the end Richmond had to save the game. First via Alex Rance, who thwarted an umpteenth forward thrust, then again through Ben Griffiths.
In many ways this game had two winners. The Tigers of course were the biggest winner, securing an improbable finals berth, but the Swans also had reason to be pleased despite the result.
They had one eye on next week and it was almost mission accomplished.
The Swans, already without Mike Pyke, Ben McGlynn, Josh Kennedy and Craig Bird, lost Lance Franklin as a late withdrawal and nearly defeated a team with a greater incentive to win.
And each of their absentees proved vital.
The Swans were well beaten in the ruck with Ivan Maric eclipsing first-gamer Sam Naismith.
With Kennedy in the stands, their midfield was outmuscled early in a manner not seen since the first month of the season when the Swans were off the boil.
And their attack lacked their usual bite. Franklin was not there to conjure the improbable, nor was Kurt Tippett, who for much of the night played in the ruck.
When the killer punch needed to be landed in the final frantic minutes the Swans could not land it, thankfully for the Tigers.
The Tigers could not have asked for a better start. They controlled the midfield with their best players Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio and Ivan Maric and surprise packet Anthony Miles all featuring prominently.
It would not have mattered if Lance Franklin had been playing. Midway through the quarter the Swans had managed just two entries inside their forward 50, the Tigers had five goals on the board.
And it was the manner in which the Tigers scored which would have worried the Swans, who were making uncharacteristic mistakes at both ends of the ground.
Jack Riewoldt benefited with three goals in the first quarter, including one from a rare defensive error from Ted Richards which gave Richmond a 33-point lead.
The Swans' first score did not come until 23 minutes in, through a goal to Jarrad McVeigh, but their play was still sloppy, highlighted by an unmarked Maric being able to punch through a long-range shot from Kurt Tippett.
The Swans hung tough early in the second quarter, withstanding an early 10-minute onslaught from Richmond, who were locking the ball in their forward 50.
The Tigers, however, managed just one goal for their superiority, to Nathan Gordon, but their good work was wiped out in one comically bad play.
First Troy Chaplin slipped over in defence, so too Chris Newman trying to clean up the mess, paving the way for Gary Rohan to set up a goal for Dean Towers.
If there was a sign the tide had turned it came early in the third quarter when a goal to Rohan put the Swans within seven points.
His goal had completed a fluent passage of play which involved Rhyce Shaw dashing from the back half to find Dan Hannebery in space.
Hitherto, the game had been played on Richmond's terms with Sydney's ball-carriers unable to generate any meaningful run through the middle.
Now it was Richmond on the ropes, as they have been for much of the year – even during their winning streak.
They gave up the lead when Adam Goodes converted from near the boundary early in time on in the third, then regained it through Brett Deledio, who won a downfield free kick after being obstructed by Dane Rampe. They would not let it go again.