Dustin Martin was best on ground. Picture: Michael Klein
Dustin Martin was best on ground. Picture: Michael Klein

Tiger time: Dusty the hero in absolute epic

AS Collingwood put Richmond to the sword in last year's preliminary final upset, Dustin Martin was as lame as a racehorse off to the knackery.

On Sunday, with Richmond's top-four hopes suddenly in peril, it was West Coast's turn to shellshock the Tigers with an identical first-quarter avalanche.

Seven sensational goals against a Richmond side missing midfield generals Trent Cotchin and Toby Nankervis had put the Tigers 24 points down and in full-blown crisis.

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Richmond paid Martin $1.4 million a year for days like Sunday at the MCG.

As the Tigers walked off the MCG six-point winners in a contest of finals-type intensity, Martin had put West Coast to the sword with 35 possessions of the highest class.

The statistics will tell you he had 11 second-quarter touches but in a game of moments he refused to let Richmond go quietly into the night as they had last September.

Jack Riewoldt celebrates kicking the matchwinning goal. Picture: Michael Klein
Jack Riewoldt celebrates kicking the matchwinning goal. Picture: Michael Klein

This contest had everything - contentious umpiring decisions, dramatic momentum swings, a game up for grabs in the final passage of play.

Richmond spent the second and third quarters establishing their game plan, then the final 10 minutes grimly hanging on.

Yet by the final siren their top four hopes were still on their own boot thanks to Martin's class and Jack Riewoldt's perseverance.

Riewoldt endured two contentious studs-up free kicks - the final one in the last minutes of a seesawing contest - and is yet to find the marking touch of pre-surgery.

But as West Coast surged as they did against Collingwood last year when all seemed lost, Riewoldt came up big in a trio of key moments.

He barged through a pack to find Shane Edwards for a steadying goal and then flicked a handpass to Tom Lynch (three majors) for a key goal.

Then with scores level he banged through a snap as the rain poured down to kick the game's final goal.

The Eagles looked shot several times in the last quarter, down by 13 points late before levelling scores as their much-vaunted running game finally clicked again late.

Jamie Cripps and Jake Waterman kicked goals from limited chances and when Josh Kennedy finally won a one-on-one against David Astbury to goal, scores were level.

But from a hurried clearance Brandon Ellis intercepted and flicked the ball in to Riewoldt, whose snap finally gave the Tigers a win that could set up a deep finals tilt.

STUDS UP

The intent of the Toby Greene studs up rule was to prevent players being seriously injured by a foot full of studs in their face.

Jack Riewoldt's overturned marks, as he twice shunted Tom Barrass slightly forward in marking contests, should be allowed in football.

Regardless of what the umpiring department says on Monday.

It ticked off Jeremy Howe's studs-up mark on Tom McDonald so it will surely back in Sunday's decision.

Riewoldt was penalised for this marking attempt. Picture: Michael Klein
Riewoldt was penalised for this marking attempt. Picture: Michael Klein

But Howe and Jack Riewoldt are two of the AFL's great aerialists who don't try to use their feet in studs-up challenges even if it has happened to both once this year.

In a game full of low scoring, defensive battles to disincentivise star players flying at the ball seems crazy.

THAT'S WEAK AS WATER

AFL players continue to find new ways of trying to miss simple goals.

Willie Rioli's first-quarter snap saw him running away from goal before a complex dribble along the ground that somehow veered right at the last minute and avoided the goalpost.

He could have run into an open goal.

Then Jason Castagna went for the snap shot around the corner with a second-quarter shot from 20m out on the slightest of angles.

Wayne Carey let loose: "That's weak as P (p---). It's a cop out. You are 20m out directly in front."

Players love all kinds of fancy set shots from different angles but Carey was right, with Castagna's dodgy 22.19 this year clearly influencing his shot choice.

VOTES

3. Dustin Martin

2. Dion Prestia

1. Shannon Hurn

BEST

RICHMOND: Martin, Prestia, Edwards, Houli, Lynch, Grimes

WEST COAST: Hurn, Yeo, Gaff, Shuey, Cripps,