RICHMOND 4.2 11.6 14.7 19.12 (126)
PORT ADELAIDE 3.3 8.4 12.6 16.10 (106)
Goals: Richmond: J Riewoldt 3 S Lloyd 3 R Petterd 2 T Chaplin 2 T Vickery 2 B Deledio B Houli D Jackson D Martin N Vlastuin S Edwards T Cotchin. Port Adelaide: R Gray 4 J Schulz 2 M Broadbent 2 M White 2 C Wingard H Hartlett J Polec O Wines S Gray T Boak.
Best: Richmond: Miles, Houli, Martin, Riewoldt, Cotchin, Deledio, Ellis, Lloyd. Port Adelaide: Boak, R.Gray, Wines, Wingard, K.Cornes, Broadbent, Lobbe.
Injuries: Richmond: Conca (concussion). Port Adelaide: R.Gray (concussion).
Umpires: Luke Farmer, Andrew Mitchell, Jordan Bannister.
Official Crowd: 21,483 at Etihad Stadium.
With finals out of the equation, the next-best hope for Richmond supporters arriving at Etihad Stadium was to see their team putting in a sterling effort. By half-time it was clear that irrespective of whether it preserved its unexpected 20-point lead over Port Adelaide, those supporters would be going home satisfied. They also went home with We're From Tigerland ringing in their ears, as the half-time margin was replicated at full-time.
As for the Tigers' players, they went home with their goal of regaining respect, admittedly from a single performance, achieved.
"We had a massive, massive focus coming into the game that we needed to earn the competition's respect, and the best way to get it was to come here with great mentality of contested football," explained Bachar Houli, whose precise distribution out of defence was vital to Richmond, especially as it began to get well on top of Port in the second quarter.
The scrappy opening to the match gave little indication of what was to follow. Port was better at finding space, particularly during chains or possession, while Tigers players too often kicked the ball forward aimlessly.
The turning point for Richmond was a stirring set-shot goal from Brett Deledio from a tight angle just outside the 50-metre arc. It lifted the Tiger-dominated crowd of 21,483, and the midfielders in turn lifted. The player chiefly responsible for that was not one of the terrific Tiger trio of Deledio, Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin but Anthony Miles, a 22-year-old discarded by GWS.
The four goals that followed set the tone for the rest of the match, with both teams allowing the other ample space to surge forward.
Richmond went to the first change with a five-point lead. By late in the second quarter that lead had increased beyond five goals. The scoring load was well shared, with spearhead Jack Riewoldt particularly selfless.
Proof there was still some roar left in the Tiger army despite a wretched season came just before the break when fan favourite Dustin Martin streamed through the attacking 50-metre arc and, after three bounces, slammed through a goal, generating arguably the biggest cheer of the match.
Miles was not the only mature-age recruit starring for the Tigers. Sam Lloyd, 24, justified his inclusion for the first time since round nine with two goals. He delivered a desperate tackle on Jasper Pittard at centre half-forward that forced a turnover and resulted in a goal.
The Tigers' concession of two goals in the last three minutes of the half allowed the Power to get closer than it probably should have been.
That lapse in concentration seemed sure to cost the home team badly when Port kicked four of the first six goals of the second half to reduce its deficit to single figures. The Power began to swamp the Tigers with its willingness to play on and run the ball forward, although the Tigers at least maintained their strong tackling pressure throughout.
Port captain Travis Boak led by example throughout the match, and was well supported by Matthew Lobbe in the ruck, Ollie Wines with him in midfield and Robbie Gray up forward. Gray's four goals were crucial because spearhead Jay Schulz was blanketed by Alex Rance, and kicked uncharacteristically poorly in his few shots at goal.
After the slew of goals that began late in the first quarter none were scored in time-on in the third quarter, which ran for 34 minutes as a result of Richmond's Reece Conca having to be stretchered off after a head clash with Lobbe.
With Richmond's lead cut to 13 by the last break the match seemed poised for a Power surge, not just because of the visitors' reputation as fast-finishers but because of the high stakes involved, with their top-four ladder position in jeopardy.
Some of the most influential Richmond players in preventing that were those among its most publicly maligned this season.
Coach Damien Hardwick's decision to send key-defender Troy Chaplin into attack was a masterstroke as he kicked two goals - and was not shy in telling his former teammates he was happy with his new football home. Soon after, Ty Vickery produced a stirring pack mark, flying in from the side, and converted the opportunity to extend the lead to 27.
While the Power kicked two goals in the first three minutes of time-on, the latter a brilliant finish on the run from Matt White after a sprint and three bounces from the wing, the two Richmond goals that followed not only settled the contest but were also deserved, both for the team as a whole and the players who delivered them.
Riewoldt's clinical finish from 40 metres, his third goal, snuffed out any prospect of a Power win, while Houli's made it even more emphatic.