RICHMOND has overcome the loss of superstar Dustin Martin to a hamstring injury in an important 35-point win over West Coast.
The Tigers moved back into the top-eight after riding a third-quarter challenge to prevail 20.8 (128) to 13.15 (93) at the MCG on Sunday.
Daniel Rioli (28 disposals), Jayden Short (21) and Marlion Pickett (25) were strong contributors for Richmond, who leapfrogged Sydney and St Kilda into seventh spot on percentage.
TIGERS v EAGLES Full match coverage and stats
Martin looked slick with 17 disposals, eight score involvements, four clearances and 359 metres gained before leaving the field during the third term.
He failed a fitness test on the boundary line and was substituted out with what the club described as "hamstring awareness".
Both sides were a man down when West Coast lost injury-plagued utility Elliot Yeo to a more serious hamstring issue at about the same stage of the match.
The lowly Eagles got a lift out of Nic Naitanui's return from a knee injury, with Tim Kelly (40 disposals, nine clearances) and Luke Shuey (26, 11) busy at the ruck star's feet.
Naitanui was influential at stoppages, finishing with 19 disposals, 26 hit-outs and six clearances as the Eagles won the clearance battle 45-31.
TIGERS SWEAT ON DUSTY Hardwick hopes news is good on superstar
Kelly capped a superb individual display with two goals and Jamie Cripps kicked three.
Richmond had more firepower in attack, sharing the scoring load and making the most of its chances.
Jack Riewoldt kicked three goals while Shai Bolton, Shane Edwards, Tom Lynch, Kamdyn McIntosh, Liam Baker and Pickett slotted two each.
It was a scrappy opening, plagued with a series of skill errors by foot from both sides.
Martin and Daniel Rioli were exceptions as their slick ball use helped the Tigers kick the final four goals of the first half to lead by 34 points at the main break.
They increased the advantage to as much as 39 points before the Eagles enjoyed a brief period of dominance after Martin and Yeo went off.
The visitors kicked 6.5 to 4.1 for the third quarter and an upset was on the cards when debutant Zane Trew calmly converted a free kick to cut the margin to 11 points.
But Richmond steadied through Liam Baker after Naitanui's tangle with Ivan Soldo off the ball resulted in Shannon Hurn's defensive mark being turned into a Richmond free kick close to goal.
Eagles forward Jack Darling out-muscled Josh Gibcus to kick an early goal but was kept fairly quiet in his 250th game.
Just when everything looked back on track
Richmond's return to form has been done with minimum input from superstar Dustin Martin, but if the Tigers are going to be a threat in September they need their finals specialist back at his best. Dusty impressed from the outset on Sunday and finished the first half with 17 disposals and eight score involvements. Then everything went awry, with the three-time Norm Smith medalist being subbed out early in the third quarter with 'hamstring awareness'. Damien Hardwick and 100,000 Richmond fans will be hoping it's nothing more than that.
It's marvelous what a difference Nic Nat makes
As many stars as the Eagles have had on the sidelines this year, there's no doubt Nic Naitanui's absence has hurt them the most. With the athletic big man back and dominating in the ruck, West Coast comfortably won the clearances 45-31 against Richmond and only benefitted further from the other magical moments he brings, like the long snap off the wrong boot in the first quarter that got his teammates up and about. Nic Nat and the Eagles may yet cause plenty of pain to finals aspirants over the next seven rounds.
Old Eagle just might have made the difference
West Coast had more inside 50s and more scoring shots than Richmond, but failed to make the most of its forward forays, leaving fans to question the wisdom of 'managing' 33-year-old Josh Kennedy to spare him the four-hour flight. It's standard practice to rest veterans in the modern game, but with Jack Riewoldt, also 33, slotting three goals at the other end of the ground there is a strong argument to suggest a club should simply put its best side on the park every week. Kennedy's cool head and accurate boot might have made a big difference as the Eagles surged in the third quarter.
RICHMOND 4.2 11.4 15.5 20.8 (128)
WEST COAST 2.4 5.6 11.11 13.15 (93)
Richmond: Riewoldt 3, Baker 2, Bolton 2, Edwards 2, Lynch 2, McIntosh 2, Pickett 2, Castagna, Gibcus, Martin, M.Rioli, D.Rioli
West Coast: Cripps 3, Kelly 2, Darling, Naitanui, Petruccelle, Rioli, Ryan, Trew, Waterman, West
Richmond: D.Rioli, Pickett, Baker, Broad, Short, Vlastuin
West Coast: Kelly, Naitanui, Cripps, Shuey, Barass, Redden
Richmond: Martin (hamstring)
West Coast: Yeo (hamstring)
Richmond: Kane Lambert, replaced Dustin Martin in the third quarter
West Coast: Sam Petrevski-Seton, replaced Elliot Yeo in the third quarter