Thus the pattern was set for an enthralling game of punch and counter-punch. Every time the ball reached the outside, the Tigers looked more dangerous, and they punished the Lions’ errors with interest. They looked cleaner and more composed.
Quickly, Dustin Martin was on the board, on the end of a long chain, and Richmond fans went bonkers. Dusty’s successor Shai Bolton – who had made the assist – soon had his first, too. Trent Cotchin roosted a big kick from outside 50. There is still life in the old legs.
But the Lions found ways to respond. Eric Hipwood is the streakiest of the Lions forwards, and he has struggled to find his mojo since returning from a knee injury. A goal from near the boundary levelled the quarter-time scores, and it pumped Hipwood up.
Then there was Charlie Cameron. He missed a gimme within a minute of the second quarter, then kicked a remarkable snap over his shoulder. Later, he tapped the ball behind him for Hipwood’s third.
Richmond have seen all this before, including at this ground. Prestia, before his injury, hacked the ball from the square; it landed in the arms of Riewoldt. From seven points down, the Tigers managed three goals from just six kicks.
Trump cards were played. Neale took over in the centre, and the Lions hit the front again. In response, Toby Nankervis began to rip the ball out of the centre himself for the Tigers. Steadily, Tom Lynch climbed on top of Harris Andrews.
The last quarter had it all. Cameron hit the scoreboard again within a minute, and the Lions hit the front. Riewoldt responded, once, then twice, and the Tigers looked like they were going to get home.
There were heroic tackles, and mistakes by both sides that will be scrutinised for the next week, including by Daniher, who gave away a silly free kick that cost Lincoln McCarthy a likely goal. If he owed them, he paid them back in spades when he was most needed.
Brisbane Lions 4.3 8.5 13.7 16.10 (106)
Richmond 4.3 9.5 14.6 16.8 (104)
Goals – Brisbane Lions: Hipwood 3 Cameron 3 Daniher 3 McCluggage Ah Chee Wilmot Bailey McCarthy McStay Robertson. Richmond: Lynch 3 Riewoldt 3 Bolton 2 D Rioli Martin Cotchin Cumberland Ross McIntosh M Rioli Sonsie.
Best – Brisbane Lions: Neale McCluggage McStay Bailey Cameron Rich. Richmond: Nankervis Pickett Cotchin Vlaustin Lynch Riewoldt.
Injuries – Brisbane Lions: McInerney (concussion) substituted out for Ah Chee. Richmond: Prestia (hamstring) substituted out for Edwards.
Umpires: Meredith Findlay Mollison Whetton.
Crowd: 35,013 at the Gabba.
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