A monster eight-goal haul to Tom Lynch has sealed Richmond’s return to finals footy as the Tigers broke to a 61-point win over Hawthorn at the MCG.
Lynch was too strong and too aggressive in the air for Hawthorn’s young key defenders, effortlessly taking four contested marks within 15 meters of goal as he kicked perfectly to finish with 8.0.
With only 35 AFL games between them, James Blanck, Emerson Jeka and Denver Grainger-Barras all spent time on Lynch with very little success as they received a brutal education from the Tigers’ talisman.
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Richmond looked vastly superior from the opening bounce as they denied Hawthorn a single forward 50 entry for the first eight minutes, the Hawks managing only six for the quarter.
Dion Prestia had a dominant first term with 10 disposals and five clearances as Richmond claimed five center clearances to one, while Daniel Rioli roamed freely off halfback with 10 possessions of his own.
Lynch booted three consecutive goals in the first quarter and then helped himself to another three in a row during the third as part of a Tiger onslaught of eight unanswered majors.
His finest goal was his seventh, a snapped set shot from the boundary line after a beautiful pass from Maurice Rioli Jnr, who played with ferocious intensity all afternoon for 2.0 and eight score involvements.
James Sicily was used regularly at center bounces and was the Hawks’ best with 30 disposals and a goal, but their best defender was not sent to Lynch until late in the third quarter when he already had seven goals to his name.
Jai Newcombe lost no admirers as he battled Prestia and Trent Cotchin on the inside, but the Hawks looked tired and helpless up forward in a performance that would worry Carlton fans riding the result of next week’s clash against Western Bulldogs in Launceston.
Tigers’ third-quarter feast
Richmond piled on eight goals in a row from just 11 inside 50s in a clinical 20-minute period that served as a fierce warning to other finals contenders.
Lynch had four kicks for four goals, dobbing two from near the boundary and breezily emerging with a mark from a pack of five to convert from straight in front.
Skipper Trent Cotchin led the third quarter onslaught from the midfield with eight disposals and a goal, while Noah Cumberland and Shane Edwards grew increasingly dangerous as Hawthorn defenders were drawn to the red-hot Lynch whenever the Tigers launched into attack.
Flag heroes farewell the ‘G
A trio of premiership players said goodbye to fans at the MCG on Sunday afternoon, with Richmond fans turning out in strong numbers before the game to send off retired Tigers Kane Lambert and Josh Caddy, who walked a lap of the ground together.
Hawthorn skipper Ben McEvoy’s final game on the hallowed turf was one of his best for the season, gathering 11 contested possessions, four clearances and a goal.
If triple premiership Hawk Liam Shiels leaves the club at the end of the year, his Melbourne swansong was typically understated.
The tough midfielder has been solid all season but often overlooked for younger players, only playing 12 games including several substitute appearances.
After 255 games at Hawthorn the 31-year-old may look to link up with Alastair Clarkson’s new side in the off-season.