Richmond’s assault on a maiden AFLW final spot has continued as they held off a feisty 19-point West Coast outfit at Perth’s Lathlain Park.
The Tigers seemed on course for a comfortable win as they opened a 19-point lead at halftime after a dominant two-quarter opening, but the Eagles hit back hard in the second half.
And thanks to their captain Emma Swanson’s goal of the year contender, they came within six points late in the game.
But just as the Eagles looked set to take a massive win, Richmond’s Laura McClelland made a valiant effort as she returned with the flight of the ball with little regard for her own safety and took a chest grab before Kate Bartlett of the West Coast shot into her. . walking from the opposite direction.
It turned out to be a match-winning move as it turned the momentum in Richmond’s favor again, allowing Grace Egan to score the final two goals and seal the win.
The result of 6.7 (43) to 3.6 (24) saw the Tigers extend their club-record winning streak to five games and catapulted them to fifth place on the ladder for the time being.
Egan also had 18 disposals and seven tackles to be the best player on the ground.
She received strong support from Eileen Sheerin, who was outstanding with 21 disposals (12 contested) and a goal, while Mon Conti continued to defend her cause as the best player in the league with a further 18 touches (12 contested), three eliminations and one goal.
The win came at a cost to the Tigers, however, with Sophie Molan finishing second in the first quarter in a nasty head-clash with Ella Smith of the West Coast and out of the game.
Meagan Kiely was also reported for a dangerous tackle on Emma Humphries.
The Tigers had won their previous three games by two, four and four points respectively, and as they headed for another thriller in the final term, Ferguson described it as an unwelcome case of deja vu.
“You can see that (glass) half full (or) half empty, right? Because the response form at that point (when West Coast came in within six points) was just excellent and I thought we were in complete control of the game from that point on,” said Ferguson.
Charlotte Thomas was great for the Eagles on defense with a game-high 23 disposals, while Swanson was also brilliant with 19 touches, 11 disputed possessions and nine tackles.
West Coast dominated clearances 23-15, but were completely beaten on the outside when Richmond crushed them (39-20) in the 50s and also enjoyed a comfortable buffer in disputed possessions (109-95).
“There are a few things we can get better at to get more within the 50s,” said West Coast coach Michael Prior.
Whatever happens this weekend, Richmond will remain in the top eight for at least one game with just three laps to go.
And with matchups against bottom 10 sides Carlton and GWS still in their race for home, Richmond will appreciate their chances of making it to the finals.