West Coast tagger Mark Hutchings' hamstring injury was a sliding doors moment in a game where Dustin Martin carried Richmond superbly.
The Eagles midfielder was ruled out at halftime of Sunday's AFL thriller at the MCG, where the Tigers eventually prevailed 13.10 (88) to 13.4 (82).
Playing in just his second game back from an earlier hamstring injury, Hutchings spent most of the first half following Martin's teammate Kane Lambert.
But after watching Martin lift the Tigers back into the game, there's little doubt the Eagles would have switched it up had Hutchings been available.
Martin went on to rack up 35 disposals, 13 inside-50s and a goal in increasingly greasy conditions that suited the Tigers to a tee.
"He could run 60 per cent, which wasn't going to cut it today," Eagles coach Adam Simpson said of Hutchings after his injury.
"It wasn't ideal for us with the role he was playing. He wasn't on Martin but it does take away (the option) - the reason he's in the side is as a bit of a go-to for us.
"We had other avenues to try and quell his influence, which is difficult to do though. But they're more about the collective, Richmond, and hopefully so are we."
West Coast dominated the first quarter but were slowly ground down thereafter, and Simpson conceded his midfielders had lowered their colours.
The loss means West Coast remain third and must beat Hawthorn next week and hope other results go their way to secure a top-two finish.
Premiership teammate Chris Masten could be in line to replace Hutchings.
"I think last year we were playing up in Brisbane for second spot (in round 23)," Simpson said.
"We're just trying to win. I'm not thinking about anything other than winning next week, to be totally honest.
"I don't do the ladder predictor. We just want to qualify as high as we can and at the moment, top four is our goal so we'll have a crack at the Hawks next week."
Australian Associated Press