RICHMOND 3.5 6.10 7.15 14.17 (101) SYDNEY 5.3 6.5 11.9 15.10 (100)
Goals: Richmond: B Griffiths 5, S Lloyd 3, D Rioli 2, A Miles, B Ellis, D Martin, J Riewoldt. Sydney: L Franklin 5, D Hannebery 2, K Tippett 2, D Towers, G Hewett, I Heeney, J Lloyd, K Jack, T Papley.
BEST: Richmond: Griffiths, Deledio, Martin, Riewoldt, Miles. Sydney: Hannebery, Franklin, Jack, Lloyd.
Umpires: Mathew Nicholls, David Harris, Andrew Stephens.
Official Crowd: 36,014 at MCG.
With a Sam Lloyd goal after the siren, Richmond at once beat a top-four side, saved a season on death's door and gave their fans a performance to take pride in.
The Tigers made mistakes against Sydney, they kicked poorly for goal, missed their targets and early in the game seemed thoroughly outclassed at the MCG on Saturday night. But they showed tenacity and desperation and when they won they celebrated like it had been a grand final.
Sydney was ominous early, led by the strength and class of Lance Franklin.
Alex Rance conceded a free kick to the omnipresent forward just three minutes into the first quarter and Franklin kicked it from 45 metres out, on a 60 degree angle.
Isaac Heeney got one from about 15 metres out on the run, with no Richmond defenders in sight, then Franklin booted his second from 65 metres, a beautiful soaring kick that Troy Chaplin could not quite get a hand to before the line.
Meanwhile the Tigers mis-kicked, fumbled and too often left their teammates with no one to kick to in their forward half.
It looked like being a blow-out, but Richmond showed grim persistence. Club leaders Brett Deledio and Jack Riewoldt were bright spots and after going into the second quarter only 10 points down, the home team lifted. Their game still had flaws, but Richmond wanted it more and they gained confidence as time went on.
Ben Griffiths kicked two and against all odds went into the main break five points up, while Tigers fans cheered as if their team had won the game.
All their hard work could have been undone in the third, when Deledio, Sam Lloyd and Jayden Short all missed kickable shots in quick succession, before Lloyd got another shot and snapped a goal from 40 metres out.
But in a strange change of fortunes, suddenly the Swans seemed to struggle to hit their targets.
Franklin booted one, but Jarrad McVeigh and Tom Mitchell missed – champagne football this was not.
Back at the other end of the ground, Dustin Martin was only 15 metres out on a slight angle when he missed his own shot at goal and he must have known if his team lost that night, this would be one of the many opportunities they would regret.
Consecutive goals to Hewett, Tippet, Franklin and Lloyd saw the visitors break 18 points free of the Tigers.
When all seemed lost, the Tigers came roaring out of the blocks for the final quarter, showing the kind of fight their fans have been begging them for all season.
Within two minutes Lloyd and Griffiths had kicked a goal apiece, thanks largely to the ferocity of Richmond's midfielders out of the centre.
Then with a pass from Riewoldt and Daniel Rioli sprinted into the Tigers' forward line, bouncing once, twice, three times and just metres out goaled to level the score against Sydney early in the last quarter.
The Swans are a genuinely good team and despite being well short of their best, laid on enough goals to hit the front.
But Lloyd was there after the siren to win the match for the Tigers by a point.
One of the more intriguing contests of the night was between Franklin and Rance, both excellent in attack and defence respectively.
Franklin has been in frighteningly good form this year, after finishing 2015 on the sidelines as he struggled with mental illness.
Meanwhile, a contrite Rance was returning to the Tigers after serving a two-week suspension for striking Jack Watts in the back of the head while the Melbourne player was on the ground.
Franklin was brilliant in front of goal, even from more than 50 metres out he rarely looked like missing. But as is often the case, his Sydney teammates looked for the big man time and again and Rance laid on plenty of pressure, at times beating him to the ball and forcing mistakes.
The 26-year-old Tiger battled hard and did more than his fair share in trying to curtail the Swans.