RICHMOND has made its best start to a season in 22 years after defeating the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Sunday.
The Tigers are now 4-0 for the first time since 1995 and continue to set the competition pace alongside Adelaide after a comfortable 17.17 (119) to 10.6 (67) victory.
But coach Damien Hardwick isn't reading too much into it.
"Outside the footy club things will be beat up, but the reality is we’re four rounds into a long season," Hardwick said.
"So we’ve just to make sure we keep our eye on the ball.
"We haven’t beaten Melbourne I think for the last three years, so that’ll certainly be my focus and what I’ll be looking at for this [week], and they’ll be smarting after a loss on the weekend, so there’ll be two teams going hammer and tong."
An unanswered five goal burst early in the second quarter blew the game apart, giving Richmond a 43-point lead they never looked like relinquishing.
It also marks the Tigers' 10th straight win over the Lions and continues an unbeaten streak at the Gabba that dates back to 2004.
Unlike the first three victories, there was almost no reliance on white-hot Dustin Martin, who was held to just 16 disposals by Mitch Robinson.
While Robinson had the better of the battle, he got some help from skipper Dayne Beams, who manned Martin at stoppages, and Darcy Gardiner, who had the responsibility when he went forward.
But the Tigers got contributions from all over the field in a fine team effort.
Shaun Grigg (30 disposals) was busy, Dion Prestia (22) continued his impressive transition from Gold Coast, and Trent Cotchin (20 and one goal) – although not super prolific – was a class above with his skills.
Jack Riewoldt was tireless, kicking four goals in an intriguing duel with Harris Andrews, the fourth of which will surely contend for Goal of the Year as he threaded the needle with a left-foot pearler from deep in the left forward pocket.
Jason Castagna also added four goals, while youngster Daniel Rioli was also magnificent, kicking two and handing off another to Dan Butler late in the third term to snuff out a small Lions surge.
Richmond set its win up in the first half with slick ball movement – it was the defining difference between the teams.
Castagna's first goal was a perfect example as they swept the ball from one to the other without it touching the grass.
For the Lions it marked the third week in a row they were out-gunned in the opening half, but unlike previous weeks against Essendon and St Kilda, this time there would be no fightback.
They were sluggish for much of the night and to add insult to the problems, running defender Tom Cutler sustained a hamstring injury in the first quarter and did not return.
Tom Rockliff finished with 33 disposals and a career-high 15 clearances and was his team's best player, while Stefan Martin (18 touches and 52 hit-outs) was a monster in the ruck.
Brisbane Lions: Young defender Tom Cutler was taken off during the first quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return. Coach Chris Fagan said post-match he could miss anywhere from two to four weeks but would need scans to confirm. Vice-captain Tom Rockliff suffered a dislocated finger in the final term, but had it popped back in and returned to the field.
Richmond: No problems for the Tigers, who got through unscathed and should have a clean bill of health heading into next weekend.
The Lions have a tall order to arrest their three-game skid, travelling to Melbourne to take on premier Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium next Saturday. The Tigers will try and make it five-from-five when they play Melbourne at the MCG on Monday week.
BRISBANE LIONS 3.2 4.3 8.6 10.6 (67)
RICHMOND 5.6 10.9 13.14 17.17 (119)
Brisbane Lions: Hipwood 2, Zorko 2, D. Beams 2, Bell, Schache, Taylor, Robinson
Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Castagna 4, Rioli 2, Grimes, Nankervis, Menadue, Cotchin, Grigg, Caddy, Butler
Brisbane Lions: Rockliff, Martin, Robinson, Mayes, D. Beams, Gardiner
Richmond: Cotchin, Riewoldt, Grigg, Prestia, Castagna, Rioli
Brisbane Lions: Cutler (hamstring)
Umpires: Mollison, B Ryan, S Ryan
Official crowd: 21,669 at the Gabba