BENDIGO Pioneers star Kayle Kirby has delivered a match-winning performance in his debut game for Richmond's VFL team.
The exciting forward booted five goals as the Tigers kept their finals hopes alive with a 14.14 (98) to 12.7 (89) win over Sandringham.
Kirby booted three of his goals in the third quarter as Richmond turned a 15-point half time deficit into an eight point advantage.
The former Tyntynder player added a fifth goal in a tense final quarter as the Tigers held on to win by five points.
Pioneers coach Brett Henderson was among those in the crowd at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, after the TAC Cup team had played a curtain raiser against Sandringham Dragons.
He could not have been more impressed by what he saw.
"He probably won the game for them, he was sensational, absolutely sensational," he said.
“He was really dynamic up forward.
“To kick five goals in his game in the VFL is an amazing effort.”
Kirby booted the Tigers’ final two goals of the match, keeping their slim finals hopes alive.
The powerfully built forward has kicked 32 goals for the Pioneers this season, to sit fourth on the TAC Cup goalkickers' table.
He represented Victoria Country at this year's AFL national championships in June.
Henderson said the five-goal effort had come at a good time for Kirby, three months out from the 2016 AFL draft.
"He's got to be in the mix," he said.
"There's never any guarantees as we know, but a performance like that is pretty eye-catching.
"No doubt there'll be a fair few people discussing Kayle Kirby tonight (Sunday).
"(Richmond) would be pretty excited. Again there is no guarantee they will select him, but there was lots of recruiters at Sandringham, so I'm sure they've walked away pretty impressed."
Henderson said Kirby was a "little underdone" heading into the national championships, but had worked hard since and was fully deserving of his opportunity with Richmond.
"His defensive pressure is good and that provides him opportunities to hit the scoreboard like he did against Sandringham," he said.
"I'm rapt for Kayle and all the other (Pioneers) coaches who have put a lot of time and effort into him.
"There's a long way to go - one swallow doesn't make a summer - but five goals on debut is an outstanding effort."
The win has pushed the Tigers to within one win of eighth-placed Essendon, with one round remaining.
They need a win over Coburg and a Bombers' loss to Carlton this weekend to play finals.
Kirby’s introduction to VFL football came alongside a pair of Richmond first round draft picks in Tyrone Vickery and Recce Conca, as well as tough midfielder Anthony Miles, who was dropped from the AFL team after the previous week’s loss to Geelong.
The Tigers are coached by former Brisbane three-time premiership forward Craig McRae.