Premiers Richmond have knocked out Port Adelaide by six points in a preliminary final slugfest to advance to a third AFL grand final in four seasons.
The Tigers, with trump card Dustin Martin kicking two goals, prevailed 6.10 (46) to 6.4 (40) in a rain-soaked clash at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.
Richmond will shoot for a third premiership in four seasons against the winner of Brisbane’s Saturday night bout against Geelong.
“It’s a significant achievement, just making it to the grand final,” Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the playing group – what Port threw at us tonight was incredible.
“You sit there and look at that game of footy and it was just brutal the whole way through, guys throwing their bodies on the line.”
Martin’s influence loomed large with a team-high 21 disposals featuring four clearances while teammate Kane Lambert emerged as an unlikely hero with two last-quarter goals.
Lambert’s strikes tipped the balance in a see-saw scrap – the margin was never greater than 11 points.
Dion Prestia (19 touches), Bachar Houli (15 disposals) and Trent Cotchin (17 possessions) were also prominent for Richmond.
The Power fell agonisingly short of reaching their first grand final since 2007 with stalwart Brad Ebert ending his career with another concussion.
Ebert, who wears a helmet after being concussed numerous times in his 260-game career, was again knocked out when copping a stray elbow to the head with six minutes remaining.
Port coach Ken Hinkley says Ebert will retire after the Power were pipped despite gallantry from Xavier Duursma (19 disposals, one goal), Ollie Wines (24 disposals) and Dan Houston (22 touches).
“Our blokes have it one hell of a shake,” Hinkley said.
Port’s Peter Ladhams was reported during a frenetic opening quarter, with the ruckman punching Richmond’s Noah Balta in the stomach though the force is unlikely to warrant suspension.
Port led by two points at quarter-time before Connor Rozee increased the buffer to seven points with a classy snap early in the second stanza.
But Richmond’s ace Martin replied with a 40m set-shot some 10 minutes into the term as the visitors drew level.
Scores were locked 3.3 apiece at halftime though Port held statistical dominance with the top eight ball-winners on the ground, 10 more inside 50s and 14 more contested possessions.
The third term followed to the tense script: both teams mustered a goal each, through Richmond’s Tom Lynch and Power ruckman Scott Lycett.
The Tigers edged ahead by two points at three quarter-time but that advantage disappeared three minutes into the last quarter when Port spearhead Charlie Dixon bombed a 50m goal to put his side three points up.
Richmond’s Lambert then slotted two clutch goals in a game-turning six minutes as the visitors crept to 10 points in front, before Port’s Ladhams converted to drag the Power within four points.
Neither team could find another goal in the remaining nerve-jangling 10 minutes with the Tigers nabbing the final two behinds.