Richmond thrust themselves back into AFL top-four contention with a stunning 18-point upset win on Friday night over Hawthorn.
The rampaging Hawks were gunning for their ninth win in a row but were forced into uncharacteristic errors by the stifling pressure and intensity of the manic Tigers, who thoroughly earned their 10.11 (71) to 7.11 (53) win.
Amazingly, the two clubs haven’t contested a final in 153 games since they first met in 1925 but the engrossing contest in front of 66,305 fans at the MCG had all the hallmarks of September action.
Coach Damien Hardwick urged his players to harness the frustration of last week’s gut-wrenching loss to Fremantle and they quickly had the Hawks on the back foot in a fiery first quarter.
The back-to-back premiers appeared rattled in the face of the Tigers’ fierce attack on the ball, with even skipper Luke Hodge committing a bad turnover that led to one of Brett Deledio’s three goals for the term.
Hawthorn didn’t manage a goal in the first quarter and, when Jack Riewoldt slammed through the first major in the second term, Richmond led by 25 points.
But the Hawks appeared more composed after the break and, with Isaac Smith, Jordan Lewis and Hodge leading the way, they were getting their hands on the ball more often.
Ryan Schoenmakers bounced through Hawthorn’s first goal of the night and suddenly it was Richmond’s turn to absorb some pressure.
The Hawks slammed through three more goals and put their noses in front for the first time when Jack Gunston booted his second goal of the quarter.
But just when it seemed like the contest was back on script, the Tigers came out with renewed vigour after the break.
Tyrone Vickery kicked a brilliant goal from the boundary after Brian Lake’s undisciplined shove and, when Taylor Hunt cut off an ill-advised kick across the face of goal by Josh Gibson to set up Kane Lambert, Richmond led by 18 points at three-quarter time.
The Hawks, who averaged 17 goals a game heading into the contest, cut the margin to just 13 points when Paul Puopolo kicked their seventh of the night but, after being stunned by the Dockers on the same ground last week, the Tigers weren’t to be denied.