VIDEO: Rance and Franklin take fans to footy heaven
IF THE Fyfe v Dangerfield match-up from 2015 was football heaven, this was pretty close.
Sydney's Lance Franklin up against Richmond's Alex Rance in a battle of the game's best key forward against the league's best key defender.
In what was an enthralling duel, the two tustled across the field throughout the entirety of the match - both in the air and on the ground - with Rance perhaps taking the individual spoils.
The Tigers defender, who has recently been described as one of the game's best ever full-backs, won 21 disposals to go with 10 spoils, five marks and 109 Champion Data ranking points.
He was everywhere, particularly late in the match, with his ability to intercept opposition chains and insert himself into virtually every contest particularly noticeable.
In doing so, Rance kept Franklin to 16 disposals, six marks and only one goal - along with just 48 Champion Data ranking points.
He also got under Franklin's skin in several key moments, with 'Buddy' placed on report for a frustrated and dangerous bump which caught Richmond's Connor Menadue high.
A free kick for high contact, which might have been on the back of Rance's theatrics, was another win for the Tiger.
However, for Franklin, the four points was all that matters.
And that's exactly what Sydney got after a thrilling fightback that saw them overturn a 36-point deficit to win by nine points.
"He's obviously a champion player," Franklin said of Rance on Fox Footy after the match.
"I had my work cut out and I really had to get on my bike today.
"I probably didn't have my best game, but we got the win and that's all that matters."
DAVID DOWN BACK
THE battle that pitted Rance on Franklin meant Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was in need of another intercepting defender down back.
But he found it in David Astbury.
So often the man to take the opposition's biggest forward, enabling Rance to drift free and stop opposition chains, their respective roles were reversed on Saturday afternoon.
Now, it was Astbury doing the aggressive offensive work - and to great effect.
The Tigers defender had 19 disposals and 13 marks, with many of them intercepts, drawing praise from Fox Footy analyst Cameron Mooney.
"He really has been outstanding," Mooney said.
"All year we've seen him play that one-on-one role, which has allowed Rance to play that spare role and help out in the air.
"Today with Rance playing that lockdown role on Buddy, they needed another tall guy to do that job and that's this guy here."
PLENTY OF POSITIVES
RICHMOND knows how to break its fans' hearts.
But amid blowing a 36-point lead in a dramatic nine-point loss to Sydney on Saturday, they could still find plenty of positives.
And one came in the form of Shai Bolton and his impressive first-half display.
Taken with Pick 29 in last year's draft, Bolton racked up 12 disposals and kicked two goals to half time, leading everyone on the field with 77 Champion Data ranking points.
"I don't think anyone expected Shai Bolton to just explode the way he has," Jason Dunstall said during Fox Footy's coverage of the clash.
"His first quarter was phenomenal, but his first half has seen 12 disposals and a couple of goals."
Although the teenager tailed off after the interval, winning only two disposals in the second half, Tiger fans will still be pleased with the glimpses they saw from Bolton.
"It's textbook front and square work," Cameron Mooney added.
"With Jack Riewoldt, if you've only got the one tall, he (Bolton) needs to give a contest. And he's been electric.
"You love seeing him run inside 50 and kick a couple of goals - he's been absolutely brilliant."