Sport AFL AFL: Tigers secure double chance, Bulldogs into final eight
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AFL: Tigers secure double chance, Bulldogs into final eight

Tiger Kane Lambert celebrates a goal at the MCG on Sunday. Photo: Getty
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Richmond has secured the double chance in the AFL finals after holding out Brisbane Lions by 27 points in a potential Grand Final preview at the MCG.

The result meant Geelong secured the minor premiership, ahead of the Lions, and will host Collingwood in a qualifying final – albeit on the Magpies home ground, the MCG.

Brisbane and Richmond will meet again in the second qualifying final, but this time at the Gabba.

West Coast’s loss to Hawthorn on Friday night proved costly, with the Eagles losing the double chance.

They’ll play Essendon in a home elimination final.

Greater Western Sydney will host the Bulldogs in the other eliminator.

In front of a record home-and-away crowd of 76,995 for a game featuring an interstate team, the Tigers burst to an early 25-point lead at quarter-time, with Jack Riewoldt booting four goals.

The Tigers then held off a determined Brisbane challenge after half-time.

Dustin Martin (21 disposals, two goals) and Dion Prestia (30 touches) were typically busy in the midfield, while Nick Vlastuin strengthened his case for a maiden All-Australian berth in the backline.

Brownlow Medal frontrunner Lachie Neale was superb for the Lions, gathering 25 touches to half-time and finishing with a career-high 51.

Vlastuin said after the match that Richmond had weathered some tough times this year and was now ready to make the most of the finals. 

“We knew that we had to hang tough,” Vlastuin told Channel Seven.

“We needed new players and found a couple, so that is exciting.

We knew we could hang in there until later in the year … we had to step up.’’

Earlier, the Western Bulldogs stormed into the finals, with Marcus Bontempelli starring in an emphatic 34-point win against Adelaide in Ballarat.

In front of 9560 fans the Bulldogs’ long and winding road to the finals was finally secured with a 18.13 (121) to 13.9 (87) scoreline that flattered the Crows.

Adelaide, Port Adelaide and Hawthorn were also in the mix for the final spot in the top eight heading into Round 23, but Luke Beveridge’s men showed they thoroughly deserve to return to September action for the first time since their 2016 premiership.

The Dogs, struggling in 14th with a 4-7 record at the halfway point of the season, romped into seventh spot with a stirring 8-3 run that set up an away elimination final against Greater Western Sydney.

The Hawks’ upset win over West Coast meant the Crows needed to win by around 16 goals to sneak into the eight, but it was the Dogs who looked set for that sort of margin in a prolific first quarter.

On a roll: The Bulldogs after making the AFL finals. Photo: Getty

Bontempelli (31 possessions and a goal) helped set the tone with a hand in both of the Dogs’ opening goals, kicked by Bailey Dale who finished with five majors.

Jack Macrae (36 touches) and Josh Dunkley (33) were also prominent in the impressive display.

Don Pyke’s Crows were 40 points down before they’d even looked like scoring.

The criticism of Adelaide in a tumultuous season has been that it has too often looked old and slow and that damning assessment was hard to argue against as the Dogs ran rings around them.

The Bulldogs led by 29 points at the first break and 28 at half-time after Adelaide showed some signs of life. The margin blew out to 55 points before a late surge.

Taylor Walker booted the third of his five goals to see his side trail by 41 points at three-quarter time.

The lead grew to a game-high 59 points before Brodie Smith kicked a goal-of-the-year contender from the boundary as the Crows kicked three goals in a row to add some some sort of respectability to the scoreline.

Matt Crouch had a career-high day with 47 possessions and Rory Sloane (34) also worked hard, but the Crows simply had too many passengers as they slumped a 10-12 record for the season.

-with AAP

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