Richmond coach Damien Hardwick predicts a "hell of a finish" in the comical race for eighth spot, and he's urging his team to dig in and give it everything they've got.
The Tigers' finals hopes are hanging by a thread after they suffered a heartbreaking four-point loss to Fremantle in Perth on Sunday.
Richmond led by nine points with 13 minutes remaining, but a mark-of-the-year contender from Lachie Schultz turned the momentum Fremantle's way, with the Dockers going on to win 7.13 (55) to 6.15 (51).
The result left 11th-placed Richmond - premiers in three of the past four seasons - nursing an 8-11 record and six losses from their past seven games.
But with GWS, Essendon, and St Kilda also losing this round, the Tigers are just one win adrift of the eighth-placed Dockers.
Richmond, Fremantle, GWS, Essendon, St Kilda, and Carlton have all been guilty of dropping crunch games when finals football has been in sight in recent weeks.
It means as little as 10 wins and a good percentage might be enough to snare the last finals berth this year, and Hardwick couldn't help but have a chuckle when asked about the trend of teams falling over when handed golden opportunities to take a stranglehold on eighth spot.
"It sums up the year of footy from my point of view. It's been a really weird year," Hardwick said.
"It's been a fatiguing year. Sides are probably right on the edge. It's hard, it's fatiguing, but we've got to dig in.
"We can see the finish line in sight, we've just got to keep pushing up that mountain and get to where we need to go.
"The challenge is set for us, it's in our hands, as it is the other clubs. It's going to be one hell of a finish, there's no doubt about it."
Fremantle's surge into eight spot on the back of their 9-10 record marks the first time the Dockers have been in the top eight this late in a season since they won the minor premiership in 2015.
But coach Justin Longmuir isn't reading too much into it.
"(It means) nothing really," Longmuir said.
"It's great for our fans at this present time. But that's an outcome. I'm more proud of the way we played. We got back to playing our footy."
Schultz's spectacular pack mark proved to be the turning point in the final quarter, with his goal followed by a Caleb Serong snap a short time later.
Fremantle midfielder Andrew Brayshaw tallied 39 disposals and eight clearances in a star display, while Adam Cerra and David Mundy also played key roles in the midfield.
Forward Matt Taberner booted three goals, while ruckman Sean Darcy was huge with 17 disposals, four contested marks, and 18 hitouts.
Fremantle forward Bailey Banfield will miss the round 21 clash with Brisbane after being knocked out while laying a second-quarter tackle.
Richmond midfielder Dion Prestia racked up 31 possessions in his first game back from a hamstring injury, while skipper Trent Cotchin tallied 15 disposals in the third quarter alone before finishing with 32 for the match.
Australian Associated Press