RICHMOND has kept its top-four hopes alive with a 91-point thrashing of Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday that was highlighted by a six-goal haul from spearhead Tyrone Vickery.
The Tigers flew out of the gates, kicking the game's opening four goals in a sign they were switched-on for the must-win clash.
Five talking points: Collingwood v Richmond
The Magpies hit back with the next three goals, but Richmond then broke their will with seven straight goals from the 26-minute mark of the first term to the opening minute of the third quarter to set up a 23.9 (147) to 7.14 (56) win.
The Tigers led by 44 points at that stage, a margin they maintained to three-quarter time, but they turned a comfortable win into a rout with a nine-goal-to-one final term.
The win was the Tigers' 13th for 2015 and, more importantly, keeps them within striking distance of their chief challengers for the finals double chance, the Western Bulldogs and Sydney Swans.
WATCH: Vickery's career-best haul
The Swans held a comfortable lead over Greater Western Sydney late in their clash on Saturday, so look set to maintain a one-game break on Richmond with two rounds to go, but the Bulldogs must beat second-placed West Coast at Domain Stadium on Sunday to maintain the same buffer.
Vickery took 10 marks (three contested) in an imposing performance and finished with a precision in front of goal that the misfiring Pies could only dream of.
With captain Trent Cotchin well held by Levi Greenwood, Brandon Ellis (31 possessions and one goal), Dustin Martin (32 and one) and Bachar Houli (29 and two) gave the Tigers much of their drive around the ground.
Alex Rance was outstanding on Travis Cloke, keeping the Magpie spearhead to one goal, while fellow Tiger defenders Jake Batchelor, Steven Morris and Nick Vlastuin combined well to keep dangerous Pies smalls Jamie Elliott, Alex Fasolo and Jarryd Blair quiet.
Well done Ty, now back it up: Hardwick
Ruckman Ivan Maric spent some time off the ground in the first quarter after copping an accidental boot to the nose when he tried to smother young Magpie Darcy Moore, but he returned to play out the game strongly.
Despite the magnitude of the win, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said the Tigers still needed to improve elements of their game after an up-and-down past five weeks.
"We're starting to get some consistency in our performance,” Hardwick said.
"We still feel we've got some areas we'd like to get better in, so we've got some work to do still.
"We got penned in a little bit in defensive 50 today, which we were probably a little bit disappointed in, so we'll just have to look at that and work through it.
"There are some areas of our game we're not quite doing at the level we'd like, which is a little bit frustrating."
Although Collingwood won the inside 50 count 58-48, Richmond controlled the game with its speedy and precise ball movement, and was regularly able to hit unattended forward 50 targets with long kicks over the back of the Pies' zones.
Collingwood's loss was its eighth from its past 10 games and put a full stop on its finals hopes, sending it plummeting to 12th on the ladder.
For the second successive year, the Magpies have missed the top eight after winning eight of their first 11 games, and for their latest defeat they could partially blame their inaccuracy in front of goal that, at its worst, saw them kick 0.7 in the second quarter.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said his players had stopped working in the final quarter after not getting reward for their efforts in the first three terms.
"We were clearly not happy with the last 20 minutes and I think that was a culmination of solid effort without results," Buckley said.
"We went inside 50 quite a bit in that first half but just didn't score and then couldn't stop it coming back the other way.
"We were disappointed with that last 20, we loosened the grip, we let go.
"We stopped working, we didn't trust, and that was a really poor aspect of the game."
Captain Scott Pendlebury (a game-high 33 possessions and one goal) led the way for Collingwood, with Dane Swan (28 and two) and Steele Sidebottom (32) his best support acts.
Greenwood could also hold his head high after holding Cotchin to 13 possessions.
The Pies' day could yet be soured further with Blair reported late in the first quarter after appearing to catch Anthony Miles high with his hip as he charged in off the square to contest a loose ball.
The Richmond midfielder had his head over the ball at the time of impact, but Blair also appeared to be making a genuine attempt to win the ball.
Nathan Buckley looks on in bemusement from the sidelines on Saturday. Picture: AFL Media
COLLINGWOOD 3.3 3.10 6.13 7.14 (56)
RICHMOND 7.3 10.6 14.9 23.9 (147)
Collingwood: Swan 2, Greenwood, Pendlebury, Elliott, Blair, Cloke
Richmond: Vickery 6, Lloyd 3, Deledio 3, Riewoldt 2, Houli 2, Lambert, Grigg, Martin, Lennon, Newman, Maric, Ellis
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Swan, Sidebottom, Greenwood
Richmond: Vickery, Ellis, Rance, Batchelor, Morris, Hunt, Grigg, Martin
Richmond: Maric (nose)
Collingwood: Alex Fasolo replaced by Jordan De Goey at half-time
Richmond: Shane Edwards replaced by Ben Lennon in the fourth quarter
Reports: Jarryd Blair (Collingwood) reported in the first quarter for rough conduct against Anthony Miles (Richmond)
Umpires: Donlon, Stephens, Ryan
Official crowd: 63,178 at the MCG