The Tigers, normally a territory-at-all-costs, high-energy side, played a more patient possession game and it had the effect of settling them and unsettling the Dogs who would have assumed they would meet a different Richmond.
What they had been doing this year had not worked well and what they had done previously against the Bulldogs had not worked – the Dogs had beaten in five of their last six games – so embracing change was a smart call.
By quarter-time they had more of the play, their two big forwards had kicked goals, their captain was back in the middle of the ground (although a bit rusty) and their diligence to change style proved valuable.
Martin was superb early on, especially when he decided the pattern of previous encounters would change – they would not lose again and Marcus Bontempelli would not get the Brownlow votes.
Enough has been written of Martin but a period just on half-time when he twice slapped the ball – no stat there – to dispossess the Dogs and force turnovers require a mention. Oh, and his goal in the last quarter. My word, on the run, right foot, on the boundary paint, wrong side for a right-footer, no gap visible between the posts and of course it goes through.
Noah Balta looks more assertive attacking the ball and not as worried about having it in his hands as each week passes. Derek Eggmolesse-Smith also used the ball as sharply as Bachar Houli might have while Shai Bolton and Sydney Stack teamed in runs through the corridor that opened up the game.
Mabior Chol had a period in the second quarter when he marked and goaled then galloped onto another ball to chip pass to Jason Castagna for a goal that was another glimpse through the window of the player he can or will become.
The Bulldogs had a good early period to start the second half but they were coming from 41 points down at the main break and for all the good work of Jack Macrae and Mitch Wallis they failed to make any headway on the scoreboard.
Richmond will be happy they found their game. Jack Riewoldt is not back, but his early goal was a comfort and Tom Lynch clunked a few marks that said his hand might be fractured but, like his side, it is not broken.
RICHMOND 4.3 10.4 11.10 13.12 (90)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.1 3.5 4.7 7.7 (49)
Richmond: Martin 3, Aarts 3, Lynch 2, Castagna 2, Riewoldt, Pickett, Chol.
Western Bulldogs: Wallis 3, Vandermeer 2, Bruce 2.
Richmond: Martin, Balta, Bolton, Broad, Grimes, Short, Pickett.
Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Wallis, Daniel, Liberatore, Williams, Smith.
Western Bulldogs: Suckling (hamstring).
2824 at Metricon Stadium.
Michael Gleeson is an award-winning senior sports writer specialising in AFL and athletics.