RICHMOND has continued to generate important momentum after a sluggish start to 2019, downing Melbourne by 43 points in what became a statement win at the MCG on Wednesday night.
After beginning the year in shaky fashion and losing a number of important players to injury, the Tigers are now four wins and two losses from six games following the 12.13 (85) to 6.6 (42) victory over Melbourne on Anzac Day Eve.
Despite providing a much better account of themselves compared to previous weeks, and in particular against St Kilda on Saturday, the Demons have slumped to 1-5 and stunningly appear unlikely to feature in September in 2019.
The Tigers kept Melbourne to just two goals after quarter-time as their defence, already missing Alex Rance and seeing David Astbury (right ankle) hobbled throughout the game, stood tall.
Nick Vlastuin made intercepting an art-form (14 intercepts), putting himself in the right position consistently and attacking off the back of his strong defensive work.
Vlastuin had 28 disposals at 82.1 per cent efficiency, while Bachar Houli also chimed in with 29 touches and eight rebound 50s as the pair continually thwarted Melbourne's attacking forays.
With Dustin Martin being tagged by Michael Hibberd, Dion Prestia (30 touches and 10 clearances) and Kane Lambert (29, eight inside 50s and two goal assists) were the Tigers' best midfielders.
The Tigers took some time to wrest control of the game after trailing by six points at quarter-time, but they made their bold move at the end of the third term and carried that drive and energy into the last as Melbourne dropped away.
Returning Tiger Jack Riewoldt's pair of goals within three minutes in the latter stages of the third term gave the Tigers the separation they needed, before Damien Hardwick's side took command of the game in the last which saw the margin blow out considerably.
Riewoldt may be looked at by the Match Review Officer for a possible 'chicken-wing' tackle on Bayley Fritsch, but the action did not appear to be too malicious.
The tale was a familiar one for Melbourne following a bright start which saw Simon Goodwin flip the magnets and produce a number of positional moves to try to light a fire under his team.
Tom McDonald was moved to defence to play on Tom Lynch; Hibberd was the man in charge of running with Martin; Jake Melksham started in the middle and Clayton Oliver started at full-forward.
But although the moves had the desired effect early in the game, Richmond's domination of the territory battle, 71 inside 50s to Melbourne's 42, became too much for the Demons to overcome.
Ruckman Max Gawn fought as hard as any Demon, playing his best game for the season with 48 hitouts, eight clearances and 17 disposals (13 contested). Melksham was the other Demons player of note, with the forward-turned-midfielder finishing with 25 touches (16 contested) and 10 inside 50s.
Richmond: David Astbury was helped from the field with a left ankle injury in the second quarter after Jake Melksham stood on his foot. Astbury returned after half-time and played out the match. Jack Riewoldt suffered a knock to his right knee after colliding with Max Gawn in the last quarter and did not return.
Melbourne: Alex Neal-Bullen struggled to run out the game with a corkie in his right quad. Jack Viney (right shoulder) went straight down the race after a heavy hit from Tiger Sydney Stack and did not return.
Melbourne will return to the MCG next Saturday to face the Hawks. Richmond will do battle with the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium next Saturday night.
RICHMOND 3.1 5.4 7.9 12.13 (85)
MELBOURNE 4.1 4.2 5.5 6.6 (42)
Richmond: Riewoldt 2, Ellis 2, Castagna 2, Baker 2, Lynch, Ellis, Martin, McIntosh
Melbourne: Smith, Lockhart, Gawn, Hunt, Neal-Bullen, Fritsch
Richmond: Vlastuin, Houli, Prestia, Lambert, Baker, Riewoldt
Melbourne: Gawn, Melksham, Hibberd, T.McDonald, Brayshaw, Viney
Richmond: Astbury (ankle), Riewoldt (knee)
Melbourne: Neal-Bullen (hamstring), Viney (shoulder)
Umpires: Rosebury, Williamson, Fleer
Official crowd: 72,704 at the MCG