Richmond are back near full strength and starting to purr again.
With triple-premiership stars Dion Prestia and Nick Vlastuin returning from illness on Saturday, a week after Dustin Martin returned from personal leave, Richmond is lurking at the foot of the eight and look a threat in 2022.
Damien Hardwick's men are now 5-4 after defeating Hawthorn by 23 points at the MCG on Saturday, banking a third consecutive win 17.15 (117) to 14.10 (94).
The Tigers were the best team for most of the game, but left the door ajar for a Hawthorn upset late before Jason Castagna and Shai Bolton put the game to bed with two minutes to play.
The Hawks led by a kick at quarter-time and then kicked the first three goals of the second quarter to open up a 25-point lead, looking unstoppable when Jacob Koschitzke kicked two goals in two-and-a-half minutes.
But just when Hawthorn had all the momentum, Richmond kicked two extraordinary goals out of nowhere. Jack Graham hit a bobbling ball from off the ground as if he was at the Kop End of Anfield, rather than the Punt Road end of the MCG.
Then Toby Nankervis plucked a ball out of the ruck and snapped from the pocket, while Max Lynch hung off him. Ten minutes later, Martin burst inside 50, cut inside with the ball under his arm and snapped a goal to put the Tigers back in front.
From there, Richmond was rarely troubled. Martin built into the game, just like he did last week, looking better the more minutes he banked. Shai Bolton was as influential in turning the game around as anyone on the ground. And Prestia produced another performance that underlined his value to Richmond's engine room, finishing with 28 disposals, eight clearances and 510 metres gained.
While the class of the Tigers eventually overwhelmed Hawthorn, there was a game within the game that was as enthralling as any match-up we've witnessed thus far in 2022.
James Sicily went to Tom Lynch at the opening bounce and rarely left his side for the next 120 minutes. Seven days after Lynch punished Collingwood star Darcy Moore for giving him too much space, Sicily was aggressive with his positioning from the outset.
It was the clash of two heavyweights. Mike Tyson versus Evander Holyfield. Both were among the best players on the ground, despite the influence of the other. Lynch feasted again to finish with four goals from 16 disposals and six marks, but it would have been much worse if it wasn’t for Sicily.
Lynch is now six ahead of Carlton star Charlie Curnow in the Coleman Medal with 31 majors on the board after nine rounds, after kicking 17 goals in the last three rounds. After kicking 32 goals in 2020 and 35 last year, Lynch has roared back to his All-Australian best in 2022.
Player of the Match
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HAWTHORN 4.4 8.5 9.8 14.10 (94)
RICHMOND 3.3 9.5 12.9 17.15 (117)
Hawthorn: Breust 3, Lewis 3, Koschitzke 2, Wingard 2, Gunston, O'Meara, Lynch, Worpel
Richmond: Lynch 4, Martin 3, Riewoldt 3, Bolton 2, Soldo 2, Graham, Nankervis, Castagna
Hawthorn: Sicily, Newcombe, O'Meara, Breust, Impey
Richmond: Prestia, Lynch, Martin, Nankervis, Bolton, Baker
Hawthorn: Gunston (ankle), Scrimshaw (shoulder)
Richmond: Balta (hamstring issue)
Hawthorn: Connor MacDonald (replaced Jack Gunston in the second quarter)
Richmond: Shane Edwards (replaced Noah Balta at three-quarter time)