It's an old cliche, and it's a ridiculous one, but it does apply here. It was a game of two halves (every game has two halves, it's what makes a whole). However you need to go a step further and point out that these halves were contrasting.
Some history and background. After having surprisingly lost to West Coast the week before, Richmond's place in the 8 was in jeopardy, making that even more precarious was the fact that this game was against Sydney, cemented in the top 8 and it was at the SCG, a ground on which Richmond had not won since 2004, and even then it took a 7 goal haul from Matthew Richardson to do it.
It really was a case of which Richmond would come out to play. The one that put Fremantle to the sword, by setting up a big quarter time lead, which they rode to the final siren, by defending strongly for the rest of the game, or the one that allowed West Coast to lead them to the ball and only showed tantalising glimpses of what they could really do if they let themselves?
The opening quarter was a case of both Richmond's and it was a pretty scrappy affair. At the time, Alex Rance and Buddy Franklin were breaking even, although the Swans spearhead did not appreciate Rance being physical on him and didn't deal well with it. The Swans took a small lead into the first break. Jack Riewoldt was probably the Tigers best player, having personally kicked more than half our score.
I don't know what happened in the 2nd quarter. I don't think anyone does. For the most part of it, Richmond kicked appallingly, the Swans had loose players everywhere, Dan Hannebery and Gary Rohan seemed to have the ball on a string and the Tigers only winner was the valiant Jack Riewoldt. It was late in the 2nd quarter when the worm started to turn. Lance Franklin elected to run past the ball and collect Shane Edwards heavily with his shoulder, he hit the smaller man in the head and he crashed to the turf. He got straight back up, but Buddy had been reported, and Edwards would later be assessed for concussion. That got in Buddy's head and Rance began to get on top of him.
This is the half time score:
SYDNEY SWANS 3.4 8.7 (55)
RICHMOND 2.4 3.5 (23)
As you can see that's a 32 point deficit. The only time in Richmond's history we'd come from more than 32 points down at half time to record a win was in the 1973 Preliminary Final against Collingwood. That particular Richmond team went on to win the Premiership that year and backed it up with another flag in 1974. With all due respect to Richmond 2015, they ain't Richmond 1973, and Damien Hardwick is no Tommy Hafey.
The 3rd quarter was like the 1st one against Fremantle and the 2nd against Collingwood. It started with Trent Cotchin, he kicked a miraculous goal, while laying on the ground and being tackled. The slow motion replay of Mark McVeigh on the goal line watching with a mixture of horror and disbelief, as the ball goes past him, is a thing of beauty. If it isn't goal of the year, it's going to very very close.
Cotchin's heroics got the team going all over the ground. Alex Rance got right on top of Franklin, in fact Buddy had one disposal for the 2nd half. Someone sat on Hannebery, he went from having 20 possessions in the first half to finishing the game with 29 total. Gary Rohan must have dug a hole somewhere on the SCG and crawled into it, because he was almost unsighted for the second half. Ty Vickery turned into a gun forward/ruckman and dominated every other big man on the ground. Jack, of course continued on his merry way. As the siren for 3 quarter time rang, Richmond had turned a 32 point deficit, into a 2 point lead.
The thing was, could Richmond keep it up? You bet your bloody life they could! It did get tight and the Swans went hard at their forward half, but kicked points when they need goals. They levelled it with about 5 minutes left on the clock. The ball went forward and who was on the end of it, but Jack! He's never had very good returns against the Swans, but his 6th goal gave us a 6 point lead, with not a lot of time left. We scrambled it forward again. Two Swans dived on the ball, Jack used his foot to trap it and then stepped back for Ivan Maric to run forward and put it through the big sticks soccer style. When we repelled the Swans next forward thrust with 2 minutes left, the commentators called it a Richmond win, and just to put the cherry on top of the cake, Anthony Miles kicked a goal with 4 seconds remaining and Richmond won by 18 points. Back in the 8, up to 6 and with a definite chance for top 4.
Jack Riewoldt salutes the crowd after one of his 6 goals.