WHEN Dustin Martin first returned to Punt Road early one morning a fortnight ago, Damien Hardwick wondered why the superstar midfielder didn’t have a takeaway latte for him.

After more than a month away from the Swinburne Centre, the Brownlow Medal winner was back in the building and ready to get back down to business.

Hardwick was only joking about the coffee. But two weeks on from the session that convinced the three-time premiership coach that the 30-year-old was good to go again, Martin provided the Tigers with a caffeine boost on Saturday afternoon.

While Tom Lynch stole the show with six goals from a career-high 25 disposals and 11 marks, the sight of the No.4 strolling around the MCG on a grey Saturday afternoon was the clear highlight in Richmond's 27-point win over Collingwood.

05:56 Mins
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Highlights: Richmond v Collingwood

The Tigers and Magpies clash in round eight

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Martin finished with 23 disposals, 11 score involvements, 358 metres gained, two goals and a few vintage moments in his first game since taking personal leave after round one – and only his second game since suffering a lacerated kidney in Queensland last July.

"It was great to see him back. I think the fans and the AFL in general were happy to see him step on the ground," Hardwick told reporters after the round eight win at the MCG.

TIGERS v MAGPIES Full match coverage and stats

"It was a pretty touching moment when he kicked that goal and the whole side got to him. I'd say there were a few misty eyes in the coaches box and down below as well.

"It was a nice moment to get some reward for the hard work he's put in for himself. We're pleased. He got through. He'll get better again next week. That’s exciting for us. He is an energy guy who brings an enormous amount of spirit to our group. It's just great to have him back."

07:58 Mins
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Full post-match, R8: Tigers

Watch Richmond's press conference after round eight's match against Collingwood

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Lynch leapfrogged Geelong star Tom Hawkins to climb to the top of the Coleman Medal leader board, backing up his 7.5 against West Coast in Perth last Friday night to move to 27.13 for the season. 

"I think he has had a great season thus far. He put a lot of work in over summer. I think he had his best pre-season from that point of view," Hardwick said.

"We're pleased with how he's going; he's getting some really good looks. He is really dangerous when he gets a long jump. He is having a great year."

02:44 Mins
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Super Lynch blasts six past Pies

Tom Lynch had a day out as he proved far too dominant for the Pies with his six-goal display

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Richmond expects Dion Prestia and Nick Vlastuin to be available to face Hawthorn at the MCG next Saturday after the star pair were pulled out of the 22 due to illness.

New key defender Robbie Tarrant was unable to force his way back into Richmond's back six on Saturday after missing the trip to Perth, playing in the earlier game at Port Melbourne due to the emergence of top-ten pick Josh Gibcus across the first two months of 2022.

Hardwick said the former Kangaroo has been dealing with a hip injury but didn’t want to use it as an excuse following a slow start to life in yellow and black.

"Look, he's the first to put up his hand that he can play better, but a testament to the guy is he has a bit of a sore hip, and he has for some time. It is impacting him and he'll never complain," he said.

"We thought as a footy club, have another week off, but he demanded to play. That’s the sort of guy we've got.

"He's going to be important for us. We didn’t need him to play this week. That’s not to say we were not going to need him next week. He's a very, very good player that’s a little hampered at the minute."

Collingwood coach Craig McRae said illness wasn’t a reason for the flat performance, despite Brayden Maynard, Nick Daicos, Taylor Adams and others dealing with the flu in the build up, a week after gastro hit a group of players ahead of the win against Gold Coast. 

04:46 Mins
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Full post-match, R8: Magpies

Watch Collingwood's press conference after round eight's match against Richmond

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"I thought it was a bigger thing last week. Last week we were coughing and spluttering coming into the game. We didn’t even speak to the players last week," McRae said on Saturday night.

"Did it help? No, but it wasn’t an excuse. Early in the week probably four or five of them didn’t get to train. In terms of where it was comparative to last week was nowhere near the same.

"I just felt they were a bit more seasoned. I said to the players, I feel we are eight rounds in and it's eight dates into a relationship, if you like. [Richmond] are more like married with three kids. It really feels like that. Our group is learning how to play together. Youth versus experience in some parts of the ground. I think we had six under 21 today."

Richmond displaced Collingwood in the top eight on Saturday afternoon by levelling the ledger at 4-4 after eight rounds.