RICHMOND 6.2 10.4 13.7 18.9 (117) ST KILDA 1.2 5.4 9.7 11.7 (73)
Goals: Richmond: T Cotchin 5 C Newman 2 J Riewoldt 2 T Vickery 2 B Deledio B Ellis D Grimes M Thomas N Vlastuin R Conca S Edwards. St Kilda: D Minchington 2 R Stanley 2 B Longer C Shenton J Steven L Hayes N Riewoldt T Milera T Simpkin.
Best: Richmond: T Cotchin, B Ellis, B Deledio, D Martin, A Rance, R Conca. ST KILDA: J Gwilt, L Montagna, S Savage, L Delaney, S Dempster, N Riewoldt.
Umpires: Shane McInerney, Jordan Bannister, Nicholas Foot.
Official Crowd: 28,487 at Etihad Stadium.
Two of Richmond's measly three previous victories this season had been such formalities so early that the concept not only of winning, but actually having to work hard consistently across four quarters to do so, must have seemed a novelty to the Tiger army on Saturday.
But if the Tigers' eventual 44-point win over a St Kilda which plugged away enough to keep Richmond honest without ever looking likely to turn the tide is worth anything, it at least gives coach Damien Hardwick a handy teaching aid in what can be achieved when the effort is steady and the leaders stand up.
On that score, no one could have stood up better than did Tiger skipper Trent Cotchin, whose five-goal haul was only part of a supreme captain's game also finishing in 31 disposals, four clearances, a couple ofd of tackles and a seeming omnipresence.
He'd already racked up 11 possessions and three goals by the first break. And he wasn't the only senior hand to set the tone early, with Dustin Martin and Brett Deledio also big contributors to a first term which established a break that wouldn't be closed.
Even when St Kilda began to work its way into the contest and the possession count began to even up in the second term, its improvement across the board did little more than to maintain the status quo.
Lenny Hayes and Leigh Montagna got busier. The Saints began to tackle harder and hold their own for contested ball and at the stoppages. But their forward line was a mess, Rhys Stanley quiet early and Nick Riewoldt overworked.
The sight of the St Kilda skipper running himself ragged up and down the ground for little reward has becoming become a recurring refrain the longer this season has gone.
And one passage during the second quarter epitomised his plight – Riewoldt making perfect position on a lead, the ball butchered again and sailing over his head, Richmond cleaning up on the rebound, sweeping the ball to the other end, where Dylan Grimes' conversion of a set shot gave the Tigers' a game-high lead of 37 points.
Riewoldt had kicked one, contested everything within the vicinity, given off two two score assists, but even a player of his talents and work ethic can't do it on his own, and despite some decent cameos from the pinch-hitting Tom Simpkin, that's essentially what the veteran was being asked to do.
St Kilda had won the second term in overall play and on the scoreboard, too, until the final seconds of the term when the Tigers managed again to sweep the ball from end to end, Chris Newman taking a mark inside 50 just as the siren rang. His goal post-bell meant that for all their work, the Saints remained 30 points in arrears.
The third quarter didn't unfold a lot differently. St Kilda had two on the board within four minutes. Stanley, now beginning to have some influence, dobbed one from 50 metres. Then improving defender Cameron Shenton drifted downfield to make position 40 metres out and completed the deal, the gap now only 18 points and Richmond fans, given their side's recent propensity for costly fade-outs, starting to feel a little anxious.
But this time, and not just once, the Tigers found an answer when required. Ty Vickery won a perhaps lucky free kick after being pushed under the ball by James Gwilt. Then Newman got on the end of some decent grunt work from Nick Vlastuin and a clever tap.
Now it was St Kilda's turn. Jack Steven capitalised on a bad error from Alex Rance, who'd headed inboard into danger territory, and substitute Darren Minchington, fresh on to the ground, drilled a beauty from close to the boundary line 40 metres out, the margin 20 points.
And again, Richmond pulled out the reply, their its Riewoldt, Jack, creating the contest, Shane Edwards reading the crumbs, and handballing backwards to an unmarked Cotchin on the point of the goal square for number five to the skipper.
Jack Newnes had an opportunity from directly in front on the siren to give the Saints life, but missed. and with t That lost opportunity so seemed to drain the Saints' last reserves of belief, the final term yielding a few cheap goals late for the Tigers, including one to Matt Thomas, which from barely 35 metres, mongrelled its way through for one of the ugliest six-pointers you'll see this season.
Not that Richmond will care too much about the aesthetics involved in delivering the result. When you're as short on returns and as big on unfulfilled expectations as Richmond has been in 2014, another notch on the win column is really all the matters.