A wounded Richmond proved it remains the AFL's benchmark on Friday night, fighting back from 25 points down to bring the Western Bulldogs' unbeaten start to the year to a grinding halt in a MCG thriller.
The reigning premiers had been challenged by the League's new kids on the block, who took the fight to the Tigers from the outset and arguably should have led by more in the game's early stages if not for some wasteful finishing.
But spurred on by five consecutive goals on either side of half-time, a tidal wave of Richmond momentum carried the Tigers to a resounding comeback and a statement 11.11 (77) to 7.13 (55) victory.
Tom Lynch had missed some gilt-edged chances and squandering his first five shots on goal as the Bulldogs seized the early running and shot into a commanding lead.
But he would quickly become the hero, adding three goals in the third term to complement 12 marks and 11 score involvements in a towering performance that inspired the thrilling turnaround.
Triple-premiership skipper Trent Cotchin displayed the hunger of a captain desperate to make it four, with his brave second-half performance setting the tempo for his side's gritty response.
He finished with 24 disposals and seven clearances, while the class and dare of Bachar Houli (31 disposals, one goal) and Jayden Short (26 disposals, nine marks) added a rebound threat the side had lacked to half-time.
The Bulldogs, as the plucky up-and-comers, played their part in what proved to be an instant classic. Marcus Bontempelli (26 disposals, four tackles) was brilliant, while Caleb Daniel (34 disposals) and Bailey Dale (27 disposals) were the side's creative outlets.
But having led by more than four goals in the second quarter as the Dogs grabbed control of the contest, Luke Beveridge had every reason for thinking 'what could have been?'
Bontempelli's wayward set shot on the stroke of half-time was a wasted opportunity to further Richmond's first-half misery, while Patrick Lipinski's poster in the final term missed the chance to stem the bleeding and draw the Dogs level at a crucial juncture.
Instead, Houli converted a long-range effort at the other end and Shai Bolton kicked two more in quick succession to ensure panic over Richmond's indifferent start would be held at bay.
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RICHMOND 1.4 2.8 7.10 11.11 (77)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.6 5.9 6.10 7.13 (55)
Richmond: Lynch 3, Bolton 3, Aarts, Riewoldt, Graham, Baker, Houli
Western Bulldogs: Naughton 3, Scott, Bruce, Smith, Schache
Richmond: Lynch, Cotchin, Bolton, Houli, Short, Broad
Western Bulldogs: Dale, Liberatore, Bontempelli, Treloar, Daniel, Macrae
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Richmond: Naish (replaced T.Cotchin)
Western Bulldogs: McNeil (unused)
Crowd: 52,402 at the MCG