Tom Lynch has booted four goals in his most productive outing of the AFL season to help steer Richmond to a 38-point win over the woefully inaccurate Western Bulldogs.
The Tigers’ spearhead took advantage of an undermanned Bulldogs defence on Saturday night at the MCG in an important 15.9 (99) to 7.19 (61) victory.
The Dogs were without key duo Alex Keath (hamstring) and Zaine Cordy (concussion) as Lynch imposed himself with four contested marks opposed to Ryan Gardner and off-season recruit Tim O’Brien.
Fellow key forward Jack Riewoldt kicked two goals on return from injury, including a big barrel from outside 50 metres after the three-quarter time siren.
It brought the Tiger Army to their feet but the highlight of the night was Shai Bolton’s brilliant goal from the boundary line after he intercepted a Bailey Smith handpass.
There were shades of Richmond’s famed premiership pressure in a win that squared their season record at 2-2.
“It’s been there and it’s been growing,” Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said.
“Even stages last week we saw it against the Saints but just weren’t able to sustain it.
“Our guys got to work in and around the contest, which is where it’s got to be won against the Bulldogs, and our ability to either win or halve the contest by stepping in was really important.
“Our guys put their hands up after the disappointing last quarter of last week and showed what Richmond footy looks like.”
The Tigers’ efficiency in front of goal was in stark contrast to the yips that plagued the Bulldogs for a second straight week, after they got away with kicking 9.17 (71) in a narrow win over Sydney in round three.
It left last year’s beaten grand finalists with a 1-3 record in 2022 that has cast doubt over their top-eight credentials.
“Frustrating is probably the obvious word,” Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.
“The last few weeks we’ve kicked way too many points.
“We were encouraged by the way we were playing for most of the game.
“Even in the third quarter we were coming again, then some really blatant turnovers ultimately fuelled a Richmond game that we’ve seen before.”
Bolton finished with 20 disposals, five clearances and two goals in a starring role for the Tigers.
Experienced teammates Dion Prestia and Shane Edwards were influential in the midfield, as was Marlion Pickett on a wing, while Daniel Rioli and Jayden Short racked up plenty of touches at half-back.
The Bulldogs’ prime midfielders, Jack Macrae, Josh Dunkley, Marcus Bontempelli and Bailey Smith, had a stack of the ball and generated clear advantages in clearances (36-25) and inside-50s (57-48).
But the Bulldogs didn’t make it count on the scoreboard and Aaron Naughton finished as their only multiple goal-kicker with two.
Infringements on the mark cost Bailey Williams and Naughton 50-metre penalties within minutes of each other during the second quarter, gifting goals to Jason Castagna and Prestia that helped swing momentum Richmond’s way.