Two months ago the idea was folly but with just one match left in the regular season, Richmond have entered the AFL top eight with a 26-point win over St Kilda.
While next week’s trip north to play Sydney will determine whether the Tigers stay there, Richmond’s best streak in 34 years was cause for celebration in itself.
Led by six-goal Jack Riewoldt, the Tigers made short work of St Kilda for their eighth straight victory, winning 15.8 (98) to 10.12 (72) in front of an impressive 47,188 at a wet MCG on Sunday.
Having restored parity in their win-loss record last weekend in Adelaide, Richmond improved to 11-10 with their demolition of the hapless Saints.
The rout was on early, with Riewoldt’s first-minute conversion followed by Ben Griffiths’ impressive running checkside in the second minute.
When Brett Deledio stole the ball in midfield soon after, shrugged a tackle and goaled from the top of the 50-metre arc, the roar of the Tiger faithful told the story.
Richmond had six goals before the Saints had their first, all but ending the contest.
Chris Newman and Bachar Houli powered Richmond from defence, with the re-signed Anthony Miles and Shaun Grigg doing the grunt work in midfield.
Up front, Riewoldt raised eyebrows by opting to kick around the corner instead of lining up traditional drop punts from the pocket.
But it didn’t affect his output, with 6.2 his best return since an 11-goal bag against GWS in May.
After Richmond’s electric start, St Kilda did rally with two unanswered goals either side of quarter-time.
Nick Riewoldt’s fine goal started from a run-up on the MCG fence reduced the Tigers’ lead to seven points but Richmond responded.
The Tigers kicked the next seven goals to open up a 50-point lead, taking their foot off the pedal late to leave St Kilda with a flattering scoreline.
Damien Hardwick’s side was full of winners, with Troy Chaplin prolific, Brett Deledio busy, and Shane Edwards impressive in his 150th game.
David Armitage and Nick Riewoldt were St Kilda’s best on another learning curve for the young side.
First-gamer Spencer White showed strong ability, kicking three goals in a hopeful debut.
Hardwick said it was pleasing to finally sit inside the top eight.
“Hopefully at the end of next week as well,” he said.
“You’ve got to give the guys some credit, they’ve shown a lot of heart to get back and put our head above water for the first time this year.”
St Kilda boss Alan Richardson said while he was still encouraging his younger breed to believe in themselves and White was impressive.
“You can certainly say he made the most of his opportunities,” he said.
“It’s important he comes through… when he was in a contest he looked positive.”