OFF-SEASON recruit Tom Lynch booted five goals as Richmond reaffirmed its claim as a genuine premiership threat with an impressive 32-point victory over fellow contender Collingwood at a wet MCG on Friday night.
The 14.14 (98) to 9.12 (66) triumph was Richmond's fifth on the trot and moves them back into the top four - replacing Collingwood - for the first time since round 10 this season.
The only negative to come from the match for the Tigers was the injury to Trent Cotchin, with the inspirational skipper suffering some hamstring soreness during the opening quarter and subsequently ruled out for the remainder of the match.
With Dustin Martin doing as he liked through the middle of the ground, Lynch dominating up forward and the fringe players fighting for their lives, Richmond was never seriously threatened after setting up the victory with nine unanswered goals during the opening half.
There were signs of the premiership side of 2017 during the goal spree, moving the ball swiftly and accurately and providing key forwards Jack Riewoldt and Lynch with a bevy of opportunities to score.
TIGERS TURN UP THE HEAT Full match coverage and stats
The pair combined for six goals and anything they didn't grab was swallowed up by Kane Lambert, Sydney Stack, Shai Bolton and Martin as the Tigers did as they pleased on a disappointing night for Nathan Buckley's side.
Midfield duo Martin (38 disposals and two goals) and Dion Prestia (35 touches) were dominant through the middle of the ground all night, while veteran defender Bachar Houli celebrated his 200th match in style by picking up 31 possessions of his own.
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In truth, Richmond had 22 contributors on the night and is starting to gather some depth waiting in the wings if injury or loss of form hits any of its squad during the run home.
While Collingwood could almost field a full team of injured players and also picked up a pair of new concerns when Taylor Adams was ruled out before the match with a hamstring complaint and Jordan Roughead succumbed to concussion just prior to half-time, they can hardly be used as an excuse for the insipid performance.
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Adam Treloar (39 disposals) and Jordan De Goey (28) stood out for the losers, and Chris Mayne (30 possessions) and Scott Pendlebury (28 touches and two goals) tried hard, but there are some serious issues for Nathan Buckley to address after his side fell to its fourth loss from its last five games.
The disappointing defeat drops Collingwood to fifth on the ladder and they could finish the round even lower if results of other premiership contenders go against them.
With four games remaining and winnable matches over the next fortnight against Gold Coast and Melbourne, there is still time for the Pies to turn it around.
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But on their performance on the big stage on Friday night, they need to get back some key personnel from injury quickly and then rediscover the ability to play for each other and as a team.
While Collingwood is in a slump, Richmond is humming and could well be on the way to repeating its premiership heroics from two years ago if it can maintain its current form for the remainder of the season.
Collingwood: Roughead was battling a concussion issue during the second term and went up the race for observations. The key defender failed to pass all the required tests and was ruled out for the remainder of the match during the half-time break.
Richmond: Cotchin went to the rooms midway through the opening quarter with a sore hamstring and was ruled out for the remainder of the match at quarter-time.
SHOWREEL Martin or Lynch? Take your pick
The Magpies have more than a week off to lick their wounds ahead of a clash against lowly Gold Coast at the MCG on Sunday next round, while Richmond will battle it out against fellow tenant Melbourne at the same venue on the previous night.
COLLINGWOOD 1.2 3.6 5.10 9.12 (66)
RICHMOND 5.4 9.7 11.12 14.14 (98)
Collingwood: Mihocek 2, Pendlebury 2, Crocker, De Goey, Elliott, Thomas, Treloar
Richmond: Lynch 5, Lambert 2, Martin 2, Bolton, Chol, Riewoldt, Soldo, Stack
Collingwood: De Goey, Treloar, Grundy, Crisp, Howe
Richmond: Lynch, Martin, Prestia, Vlastuin, Bolton, Grimes
Fans' Best on Ground in partnership with Google: Dustin Martin
Collingwood: Adams (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Crocker, Roughead (concussion)
Richmond: Cotchin (hamstring)
Umpires: Stephens, Nicholls, Mollison
Official crowd: 78,722 at the MCG