The equation was relatively straightforward for Richmond heading into its round-15 game against St Kilda. All the Tigers needed to do was win their next 13 games and hope a couple of other results were accommodating, and a long-awaited premiership would be theirs.

Richmond had entered that clash sitting at 3-10, possessing the same record as the Saints. It meant the Tigers (16th on the ladder) were only percentage (admittedly a hefty 33 per cent) clear of bottom spot.

Captain Trent Cotchin starred that afternoon at Etihad Stadium, with five goals and 31 disposals, catapulting the Tigers to a 44-point win. Three days later, a new financial year began, and since then it's been all boom (at least in the win-loss assessment) for the mob from Punt Road.

Even if the victories over the Saints, the Brisbane Lions, and last Saturday's painstaking struggle against Greater Western Sydney were not cause for jubilation, when combined with gutsy wins against Port Adelaide and West Coast, Richmond has kept that exceptionally remote finals push alive heading into the final month of the regular season.

Here is the situation, inclusive of all teams Richmond could mathematically displace, and their respective runs home:

5th Port Adelaide, 48 pts, 130.2 per cent

Sydney (AO), Gold Coast (MS), Carlton, (AO), Fremantle (PS)

6th North Melbourne, 40pts, 109.3 per cent

GWS (SO), Western Bulldogs (ES), Adelaide (BA), Melbourne (ES)

7th Essendon, 40pts, 107.7 per cent

Richmond (MCG), West Coast (ES), Gold Coast (ES), Carlton (MCG)

8th Collingwood, 40pts, 105.1 per cent

West Coast (PS), Brisbane Lions (MCG), GWS (Spotless), Hawthorn (MCG)

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9th Gold Coast, 40pts, 99.4 per cent

Carlton (ES), Port Adelaide (MS), Essendon, (ES), West Coast (MS)

10th Adelaide, 36pts, 106.3 per cent

Brisbane Lions (G), Richmond (AO), North Melbourne (ES), St Kilda (AO)

11th West Coast, 32pts, 108.2 per cent 

Collingwood (PS), Essendon (ES), Melbourne (PS), Gold Coast (MS)

12th Richmond, 32pts, 103.1 per cent

Essendon (MCG), Adelaide (AO), St Kilda (MCG), Sydney (ANZ)

So, just how can the Tigers shuffle their way through the traffic? Well, it will be next to impossible if they don't win all of their remaining matches. That will be a major stretch, but there is always hope that Sydney has locked in a home final in week one by the time the Tigers travel north in round 23.

Four wins would leave Richmond with 48 points, and potentially an improved percentage. It would need to overtake at least one of the four sides in the eight, and also hope that none of the teams placed 9th to 11th overhaul it.

Even considering Port Adelaide's drop in form, it is still hard to envisage the Power not winning at least one game in the run home, or losing enough percentage that the Tigers could usurp the early pacesetter.

Likewise, if North Melbourne can even slightly overcome its personality disorder and account for a couple of the competition's weaklings, it too should be safe.

The most vulnerable sides in the eight would seem to be Collingwood and Essendon (and how sweet it would be for the Tiger faithful should their team knock one of those two out at the 11th hour).

Working in Richmond's favour is that two of its remaining matches are against opponents in the hunt for the eight - Essendon and Adelaide. Likewise, there is a fair collection of games played between the other finals aspirants. Of course, it works both ways, though, because when West Coast and Collingwood (as an example) meet on Sunday at Patersons Stadium, the four points have to go somewhere.

Essendon's fixture is fascinating in the sense that none of its four games would appear to be absolute gimmes given Carlton and West Coast's solid form, although conversely Essendon could conceivably win all four games without a major upset. But its recent football has been strong enough to lead it to favouritism against the final three sides.

The best bet is probably Collingwood. Not withstanding two likely triumphs against the Giants and Lions, the Tigers can rest their hopes on the prospect of a thrashing at the hands of Hawthorn (hopefully still with something to play for), and defeat this week in Perth against West Coast.

So, the easiest (and it's not easy) way for Richmond to make the finals is:

  • Richmond wins all four of its games and ends on 48 points, but gains a major percentage boost by thumping St Kilda
  • Collingwood wins two of its final four, finishes on 48 points, but cops a last-round shellacking against Hawthorn, and only narrowly beats the Lions and Giants, meaning the Magpies fall below Richmond on percentage.
  • Gold Coast loses a couple of its games, and regardless of whether it finishes on 48 points, is shaded by the Tigers on percentage.
  • Adelaide loses to Richmond and probably North, so it cannot match the yellow and black surge.
  • West Coast downs Collingwood, Gold Coast and Melbourne, but loses to Essendon (a defeat the Eagles rue after Richmond barnstorms its way through August

From there Richmond, on the back of an irrepressible bolt of momentum, careers its way through September, defeating Port Adelaide, Geelong, Sydney (again) and Hawthorn. There's your 13 in a row.

Forget Kiwi and Steven Bradbury, this will be the greatest from the clouds job of all time.

Oh, we're from...

Odds to make the top eight (Sportsbet):

North Melbourne $1.14
Essendon $1.33
Collingwood $1.55
Adelaide $2
Gold Coast $5
West Coast $9
Richmond $16 (and $501 for the flag if you are now getting excited).