MELBOURNE, VICTORIA - MAY 14: Sam Lloyd of the Tigers is congratulated by Dustin Martin, Ben Griffiths and Brandon Ellis of the Tigers after kicking the match-winning goal after the final siren during the round eight AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Sydney Swans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 14, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Are the Tigers finals bound in 2016? The stats say they might be

The Tigers proved on Saturday night that their season may still have life, with a thrilling one-point win over the Swans at the MCG.

After seven rounds Richmond was sitting at 1-6 and with the pressure mounting on coach Damien Hardwick and the playing group, it looked at though the season was slipping away, particularly after disappointing losses to Port Adelaide, Melbourne and Collingwood.

However, their last gasp win on the weekend seemed to breath new life into their season. But at 2-6 after eight rounds, a finals birth still seems a long shot.

But if history is anything to go by, not for the Tigers.

Richmond has reached the finals three years in a row and on every occasion, the Tigers have started slowly and then come home with a flourish, winning the bulk of their games in the second half of the season.

We all remember the remarkable run of Richmond’s nine consecutive wins in 2014 to edge into ninth spot on the ladder.

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Richmond was 2-8 after ten games that year and 3-10 after 13 games, before winning nine on the trot to finish eighth on the ladder.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA - MAY 14: Sam Lloyd of the Tigers is congratulated by Dustin Martin, Ben Griffiths and Brandon Ellis of the Tigers after kicking the match-winning goal after the final siren during the round eight AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Sydney Swans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 14, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA – MAY 14: Sam Lloyd of the Tigers is congratulated by Dustin Martin, Ben Griffiths and Brandon Ellis of the Tigers after kicking the match-winning goal after the final siren during the round eight AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Sydney Swans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 14, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images)

In 2015, the Tigers were 4-4 after eight rounds and 6-5 after 11 matches, before winning nine of their last 11 matches to finish in fifth spot on the ladder, with 15 wins and seven losses.

In 2013, Richmond started slighty better than in more recent years, sitting 5-3 after eight matches and 6-4 after 10 rounds. However, the Tigers still came home strongly, winning nine of their last 12 to claim fifth spot on the table, once again with 15 wins and seven losses.

The statistics show that Hardwick’s side simply cannot start a season strongly and for whatever reason, leave their run to the finals very late.

Despite the evidence, the Tigers will still have their work cut out to reach the final eight in 2016. Coming from so far back in the field is never easy. However, they do enjoy a favourable draw over the next few weeks to help get their season back on track.

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Richmond plays Fremantle (Domain Stadium) next round, Essendon in Round 10, have a tough match against North Melbourne in Round 11, before facing the struggling Suns (MCG) in Round 12 and Lions (MCG) in Round 13 and then the Power (Adelaide Oval) in Round 14, who have been very patchy so far this season.

If the Tigers win five of those six games, which they arguably should do if they can produce the same form as they did against Sydney on Saturday, they will fins themselves at 7-7 and will be a real chance to feature in September for a fourth straight year.

But as we all know, Richmond has been knocked out out of the finals in the elimination final for three consecutive years, meaning the big issue is now winning a final.

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