Rance shows strong progress on AFL return

There are signs that Alex Rance, pictured here in round one, is set to return for the Tigers?
There are signs that Alex Rance, pictured here in round one, is set to return for the Tigers?

Alex Rance's five-second Instagram video is the latest good news for Richmond as they continue to build late-season momentum in the AFL.

The winner of their Friday night blockbuster against Collingwood at the MCG will go a game clear in the top four, with another four rounds to the finals.

But the ladder is volatile, with only one game and percentage separating second-placed Brisbane from the fifth-placed Tigers.

As the ladder stands, Collingwood or Richmond will finish fourth, and that would be a bad result for Geelong should they finish top.

It would mean the Cats "host" an MCG qualifying final against a big-drawing tenant team.

While Collingwood are fourth, ahead of Richmond on percentage, they are struggling for form unlike the Tigers.

After the previous week's stirring one-point away win over West Coast, the Magpies were jumped in the first quarter against GWS on Saturday and returned to Melbourne nursing a 47-point loss.

Collingwood have lost three of their last four games and are missing several key players, including Ben Reid, Darcy Moore, Jaidyn Stephenson and Dayne Beams.

By contrast, Richmond have won their last four games and are in the midst of a dream run of seven matches at their MCG home before the finals.

Ruckman Toby Nankervis is on the verge of returning from injury, making Rance their one big name who is out of action.

Rance has made outstanding progress since he needed a knee reconstruction following round one.

The short video he posted on Monday showed the star defender running strongly at Punt Rd.

He will need everything to go right for an improbable AFL comeback this season, but one of Richmond's most important players is not putting a foot wrong in his rehabilitation.

There is a precedent - Collingwood tall utility Tyson Goldsack needed a knee reconstruction in the pre-season last year and returned for their four finals.

Goldsack is yet to play an AFL game this season, but he could be back this Friday as Collingwood try to quell Richmond key forwards Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt.

At the other end, key forward Mason Cox continues to struggle for form.

But he seems certain to play on Friday night and his preliminary final monstering of the Richmond defence last September makes Cox an uncomfortable matchup for the Tigers.

"We're not expecting him to come out and do a prelim performance, that's for sure, but for him just to create a contest, that's all we expect," said fellow Collingwood defender Jeremy Howe.

Australian Associated Press