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Richmond star Dustin Martin has returned just in the nick of time as his side faces Brisbane in an Elimination Final showdown at the Gabba.

The Lions (15-7, 119.3%) will be desperate to improve upon a 1-5 record in finals under coach Chris Fagan and have been hit with three forced outs: Cam Rayner and Noah Answerth due to suspension and Jarryd Lyons due to injury.

The Tigers (13-8-1, 121.6%) come into Thursday’s match on a four-game winning streak and loom as one of the dark horses of the finals series.

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The winner of tonight’s Second Elimination Final faces the loser of Melbourne-Sydney in next week’s Second Semi Final.

There were no late changes for either side, with Shane Edwards (Richmond) and Cal Ah Chee (Brisbane) named the medical subs. Edwards, who’ll be retiring at season’s end, was initially dropped from the side, but won a late reprieve by being named sub.

First quarter

There was plenty of drama early, with Shai Bolton copping a poke in the eye, while Oscar McInerney suffered a big blow to the face that caused him to bleed from the nose.

McInerney came from the ground in the hands of trainers and was nearly immediately subbed out for Callum Ah Chee in a huge early blow to the Lions as the hosts were left without a genuine ruckman for essentially the entire game.

“This really disturbs they wanted to set up doesn’t it,” Channel 7 commentator Brian Taylor said of McInerney’s exit from the game.

Daniel Rioli struck first blood on the scoreboard with a tough set shot to get the Tigers up and about early in enemy territory, while Dustin Martin wasted no time to make an impact, kicking Richmond’s second goal after finishing an exciting passage from the visitors.

Brisbane picked up the intensity later in the quarter including a couple of massive crunching tackles as the ball stayed in its forward half.

Dayne Zorko found Callum Ah Chee, who missed his first set shot, with a penetrating long kick deep inside 50 to set up Brisbane’s second goal of the night.

The Tigers responded though, including a huge long-range bomb from Trent Cotchin before some Bolton magic as the star small forward nailed a tough banana kick from the boundary for his second goal of the quarter.

“Big moments, elimination finals, he has a habit for turning up the heat, turning up the volume and doing something brilliant,” Channel 7 caller Hamish McLachlan said of Bolton.

Eric Hipwood near singlehandedly got his team back in the game though, nailing a tough kick on the boundary followed by a set shot from outside 50m after the siren to tie up the scores, 4.3 (27) apiece at quarter time and cap off an electric start to the contest.

This match gets underway at 7:20pm AEST from the Gabba.

Watch it live on Fox Footy (channel 504) from 6:30pm AEST.

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