AFL premiership favourites Greater Western Sydney stormed home on Saturday to claim an astonishing three-point win, breaking Richmond’s hearts with the help of a late score review.
GWS booted the final six goals of the game at Spotless Stadium, making the most of a final-quarter capitulation from the Tigers to triumph 11.12 (78) to 10.15 (75).
“It’s tough. It’s heartbreaking,” Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said after his side lost a third-straight match by less than a goal.
“You can look at it both ways. We’ve lost to the Bulldogs by a kick; we’ve lost to GWS by a kick. I walk away as a coach incredibly proud of our boys … they battled as hard as they could for as long as they could.
“We should have won.”
GWS counterpart Leon Cameron, whose side toppled Collingwood last week in similar thrilling fashion, agreed.
“We didn’t play well. Richmond should have won. They were better than us throughout the game,” Cameron said.
“We were in front for a minute out of 120. It’s a ruthless game … you need a little bit of luck.
“We’ve got a good, steely resolve which is pleasing. It’s very hard to train.”
The comeback was all the more meritorious – or miserable if you’re a Richmond supporter – because GWS big man Rory Lobb was out of action for most of the second half.
Richmond dominated the first term, kicking two goals in the opening minute then shooting out to a 31-point lead. GWS lifted after quarter-time as the contest became an arm wrestle.
The visitors held a 27-point lead early in the final quarter then simply stopped, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory a week after David Mundy trumped them with an after-the-siren goal.
Despite Richmond’s wobbles, their debutant Shai Bolton looked to have kicked the sealer late.
Both sides were back in the middle for a centre bounce when video officials judged Bolton’s snap to have been touched off the boot by fellow first-gamer Harry Perryman.
Nathan Wilson took the kick-in. The Giants rushed the ball straight to Jeremy Cameron, who kicked truly.
“We let ourselves down badly with that last play and that’s all you get remembered for, unfortunately,” Hardwick said.
“It’s not my job to run the score review. I wish I did.
“We’ll certainly focus on that last play, that last couple of minutes.
“You learn a lot from these sort of losses.”
The Tigers could only blame themselves for the staggering surrender. They managed just 4.14 after kicking 6.1 early, with Jack Riewoldt and Dustin Martin missing set shots they’d so often convert.
Alex Rance was involved in so much of what Richmond did well and held a couple of clutch marks in the frantic final minutes, but the defensive general couldn’t drag his side over the line.
Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly tallied a combined 62 disposals for GWS, helping them make it consecutive last-gasp victories.