The Richmond of old has returned with the Tigers reigniting their AFL premiership defence by booting 10 of the last 12 goals to down previously unbeaten ladder-leaders the Western Bulldogs.
Staring down the barrel of a fourth loss in five weeks, the Tigers recovered from a 25-point deficit midway through the second quarter to stun the Bulldogs by 22 points at the MCG on Friday night.
Instead of dropping to 3-4 ahead of next week’s grand final rematch with Geelong, Dustin Martin-less Richmond earned their fourth win of the season the hard way, winning 11.11 (77) to 7.13 (55) in front of 52,402 fans.
Tigers spearhead Tom Lynch, who this week came under fire for his output this season, starred up forward by responding from an inaccurate first-half to finish with 3.5 and 12 marks.
The Tigers hit top-gear during a third-quarter blitz, booting five straight goals and dominating the inside-50 count 18-5 for the term.
Richmond’s Liam Baker kicked the opening goal of the last quarter, but recalled Bulldogs forward Josh Schache cut the margin back to five points.
Veteran defender Bachar Houli stepped up when the Tigers needed him, with his set-shot from 50 metres bouncing over the line untouched.
Electric speedster Shai Bolton put the final nail in the Bulldogs’ coffin by kicking the next two goals.
Marcus Bontempelli’s missed set-shot on the half-time siren proved costly, with the Bulldogs captain blowing a golden opportunity to put the Bulldogs 24 points up at the main break.
If the Bulldogs had comtinued their winning way, it would have been the first time since 1987 they had won seven straight games.
But the result instead leaves Melbourne as the only unbeaten team ahead of the Demons’ clash with winless North Melbourne on Sunday.
Richmond will likely regain Martin (concussion) for next Friday night’s blockbuster against the Cats.
The Tigers were also missing Kane Lambert (calf), while the Bulldogs lost midfielder Josh Dunkley (shoulder) and ruckman Tim English in last week’s victory over Greater Western Sydney.
Tigers skipper Trent Cotchin was subbed out late in the game with what he described as a “little hammy”.
(C) AAP 2021
RICHMOND 1.4 2.8 7.10 11.11 (77)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.6 5.9 6.10 7.13 (55)
Goals: Richmond: S Bolton 3 T Lynch 3 B Houli J Aarts J Graham J Riewoldt L Baker. Western Bulldogs: A Naughton 3 A Scott B Smith J Bruce J Schache.
Umpires: Ray Chamberlain, David Harris, Leigh Fisher.
Official Crowd: 52,402 at MCG.