After only three rounds, Richmond is already facing an uphill battle to stay in touch with the top of the AFL ladder at 1-2 and facing a challenging next month.
And the Western Bulldogs' first win of the 2014 season has come at a price, with important key defender Jordan Roughead facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after a serious shoulder injury.
The Bulldogs' gritty victory could prove costly for its opponent. The Tigers, after trailing by as much as 38 points, had clawed their way to the front with just over three minutes left on the clock after a fourth goal to Jack Riewoldt.
But Brandon Ellis conceded a free kick and resultant goal to Bulldogs super-sub Daniel Giansiracusa to leave Richmond lamenting its earlier tardiness, managing just three goals in the first half.
Over the next four weeks, the Tigers take on Collingwood, Brisbane at the Gabba, Hawthorn and Geelong.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said his side had no one to blame but themselves.
"We know our best footy is capable of beating some very good sides,'' he said. ''We've just got to make sure we maintain that consistency for longer periods.
''A half-hour last week, a half-hour this week … we've just got to make sure we eradicate those and get ourselves out of the spot we've put ourselves in."
Hardwick lauded the efforts of captain Trent Cotchin, arguably Richmond's only four-quarter player, the skipper finishing with 28 possessions and 11 clearances. "His centre bounce work in the third and fourth quarter got us back into the contest. When we needed him to stand up and get us back in the game, he was one guy who led the charge, which was really impressive."
Western Bulldogs' coach Brendan McCartney said he felt more relieved than excited by his team's victory, but lauded the team's resilience, fighting off three Richmond challenges in a pulsating final term.
"It was just keep doing what you're doing. It was nearly good enough last week," he said. "Just do it for longer and hang in there. In the end we got pulled apart a bit and we found a way to scrounge a couple of goals. We had some really strong mentally tough people stand up, too, in the last quarter."
But McCartney was disappointed for Roughead, who played an effective stopping role on Richmond key forward Ty Vickery despite having injured his shoulder early in the game.
"He'll miss a fair whack of time," McCartney said "It was quite heroic what he did. He stayed on the ground with a broken shoulder for three quarters. He's a special young man, 'Roughy'. He'll become a pillar of our club. He's etched his name as always now a person that you just want to play footy with."
McCartney also lauded the game of young on-baller Jack Macrae, who finished with 30 disposals, six tackles and a goal. McCartney likened him to a young Joel Corey, the triple Geelong premiership player now a specialist coach at Whitten Oval.
"He arrived at our club with no idea how to find his man," the coach said of Macrae. "He was amazed when we asked him to stand in certain spot at a stoppage. 'What do you mean, I just go where I want.'
"So I don't want to knock that out of him. But what the coaching group has been able to do is add that little bit of formality to his game. He's coming along really well. We've got a really good young player who will develop quickly."