THE COMPETITION is on notice – all roads to the flag go through Richmond.
TIGERS TAME LIONS Full match coverage and stats
The Tigers flexed their premiership muscles on Tuesday night, sending an ominous warning to rivals with a commanding 12.10 (82) to 4.17 (41) victory against a wasteful Brisbane at Metricon Stadium.
>> WATCH THE MATCH HIGHLIGHTS IN THE PLAYER ABOVE
It was their 15th straight win against the Lions and sets up a tantilising match against League leader Port Adelaide on Saturday night.
In a match eerily similar to last year's qualifying final, Richmond punished a Brisbane outfit that frittered away chance after chance after chance in front of goal.
Tom Lynch (three goals) got the better of Harris Andrews in their heavyweight battle, particularly in the pivotal first half, while Dustin Martin (24 disposals and three goal assists) continued his blazing mid-season form.
'HE'S GOT HIS MOJO BACK' Big Tiger gets aggressive
Shai Bolton was magnificent in the midfield, kicking a 70m second-quarter goal to go along with 24 disposals and six clearances, while Jack Riewoldt found some form with four goals.
After the Lions kicked the game's first two goals, Richmond got on top, blowing the game open in the second term, kicking five goals to one despite having just nine inside 50s to their opponents' 14.
Brisbane did not help itself, missing many easy shots at goal, most notably Sam Skinner's from the top of the goalsquare – but he had plenty of guilty mates.
When dominating field position for much of the third quarter the Lions kicked 0.7 to Richmond's 1.1, which just about summed up the game.
Lachie Neale had another sublime midfield performance, racking up 26 disposals.
Has Dusty reclaimed his mantle as best player in the game?
The better question might be, did he ever lose it? After a slow start to the season, the Brownlow medallist and two-time Norm Smith Medal winner is on fire and turned in another virtuoso performance. His audacious pass off the outside of his right boot to Jack Higgins in the third term was just exquisite. Whether he was onball or one-on-one deep, Martin worried Brisbane all night and made it two best on grounds in his past two matches.
Another hamstring injury for the Lions
Former No.1 draft pick Cam Rayner added to Brisbane's woes when he hobbled off in the second term with a hamstring injury. Following three years with a relatively clean bill of health, the Lions are now encountering some issues. Daniel Rich and Ryan Lester hurt hamstrings against Melbourne recently, but are both expected to be available for Saturday night's match against the Western Bulldogs.
Tom Lynch started the onslaught and Jack Riewoldt finished it. The Tigers got plenty out of the victory, but maybe nothing moreso than the form of their two power forwards. Lynch kicked two quickly in the first quarter and then out-bodied his opponent Harris Andrews to kick a third in the second. Riewoldt, who had kicked just nine goals in the nine previous weeks should get a huge confidence boost from his haul of four. He took marks on the lead against a good opponent in Darcy Gardiner and kicked another from good forward pressure where he pinged Lions debutant Jack Payne for holding the ball.
RICHMOND 3.3 8.5 9.6 12.10 (82)
BRISBANE 2.3 3.8 3.15 4.17 (41)
Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Lynch 3, Aarts 2, Bolton, Higgins, Pickett
Brisbane: Cameron, Hipwood, McCarthy, Zorko
Richmond: Martin, Bolton, Lynch, Baker, Short, Balta
Brisbane: Neale, McInerney, McCarthy, Ah Chee, Lyons
Brisbane: Rayner (hamstring)