Richmond's pressure returned to its premiership best as the Tigers assumed top place on the ladder for the first time since round eight after Sunday's 18-point win over Geelong at the MCG.

Richmond finished with 82 tackles – including 25 with the game on the line in the final term – led by Jack Graham (13) and Daniel Rioli (eight), who was making his first appearance of the season. 

"The pressure was probably back to its elite level," Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said after the match.

"You add a young kid in by the name of Rioli, it certainly makes a difference.

"I think he had three forward-50 tackles in the first quarter which probably sets the standard. It was pleasing to see it back to its usual level."

Hardwick also revealed he contacted the umpiring department to question the treatment of Jack Riewoldt following last week's loss to Port Adelaide.

He felt the experiment of the fourth umpire, in the first of its two-week trial, failed to make any difference.

"Jack Riewoldt should've got one (free kick) in the first quarter and we had four umpires and we still didn't see it," Hardwick said.

"We spoke to the umpires last week about the treatment of Jack and he still failed to get a free kick today.

"We felt Jack was man handled a little bit more than he should. Defenders have become better at doing it and we coach it, that's the reality.

"I think Nank (Toby Nankervis) gave away five free kicks, I just wished they'd let the rucks go and belt the living suitcases out of each other and then figure it out at the end."

Hardwick also launched an impassioned defence of Alex Rance and fellow champions' exaggeration of free kicks, describing recent commentary on staging as "farcical."

The Richmond coach called on the targeting of big names to end after a recent spate of players being scrutinised for playing for free kicks.

Rance was fined $1000 for diving in a round 10 marking contest before questions were raised last week when he propelled forward after a nudge from Port Adelaide's Charlie Dixon.

After Lance Franklin won a free kick for a push in the back on Friday night and Patrick Dangerfield appeared to amplify contact on Sunday, Hardwick said the discussion needed to stop. 

"I've over-exaggerated for a free kick, absolutely, and every player within the AFL system has done the same," Hardwick said post-game.

"Unfortunately, they seem to pick on my bloke (Rance), it's what we do, (focus on) champions.

"Buddy Franklin over-exaggerates a free kick (against West Coast), all of a sudden the media are all over him.

"I think it's farcical to be perfectly honest. I sit here and I could find you five from this game.

"That staging rule is not for the over-exaggeration of free kicks. The rule itself would say it is but to me, if I push someone and he falls over that's staging."

Premiership players Wayne Carey and Kane Cornes led the scrutiny of Rance's initial staging incident against Essendon and Hardwick believes focus needs to be placed elsewhere. 

"Just let the guys play, pull your (media) heads in I reckon," he said.

"Just talk about the game, stop looking for the sensational headlines that is just ridiculous, I get a bit tired of it to be fair."

Hardwick said David Astbury would return to play Sydney after the bye with the premiership defender replaced by his "clone" Ryan Garthwaite, who made his debut on Sunday.

The Tigers also expect to welcome back Dion Prestia (calf) for the clash with the Swans.