Tigers take MCG winning streak to 21 games
JACK Riewoldt booted five goals on Saturday to firm his grip on a third Coleman Medal and lead Richmond to a tense three-point AFL win over the Western Bulldogs at the MCG.
Rookie Brad Lynch had the chance to secure an upset victory for the Bulldogs with less than a minute remaining on Saturday afternoon but his set shot from a tight angle hit the post and the Tigers prevailed 15.8 (98) to 14.11 (95).
It was far from the Tigers' most convincing performance but that would matter little for the minor premiers, whose dominance at the home of football has them primed to claim back-to-back flags.
The win extends their record unbeaten run at the MCG to 21 games and takes their final regular-season tally to 18 wins and just four losses.
Riewoldt's 5.2 leaves him with a season tally of 65.33, ahead of Geelong's Tom Hawkins (58) and with North Melbourne's Ben Brown (58) and Sydney's Lance Franklin (57) yet to play.
The 56,998 crowd roared every time Riewoldt marked the ball, well aware that every major was drawing him closer to a third Coleman Medal.
Should Riewoldt prevail, it would be the lowest winning tally since he won the award with 65 majors in 2012.
With the minor premiership already secured, Richmond went in as firm favourites against the 13th-placed Dogs but struggled to put their opponents away and never led by more than three goals.
Damien Hardwick's men saved one of their worst first quarters of the season for last, playing what could only be described as bruise-free football.
The Tigers had just eight tackles at quarter-time in a far cry from the suffocating pressure that won them last year's premiership.
Bulldogs star Jack Macrae had a stunning first half, racking up 25 disposals, nine marks, six tackles and a goal as the Dogs went to half-time with a three-point lead.
The Tigers found another gear in the second half with Dustin Martin (33 disposals, nine clearances and a goal) continuing his hot form and Riewoldt delivering a commanding performance up forward.
Bulldogs rookie Patrick Lipinski was stretchered off in the final quarter after landing heavily on his neck in a marking contest.
The Tigers appeared to get through unscathed, leaving them well placed for September with Kane Lambert and Dan Butler set to return for their first final.