MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 14: Tom J. Lynch of the Tigers (L) celebrates kicking a goal with Jack Riewoldt of the Tigers during the round nine AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Richmond Tigers at Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 14, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

An exciting past month of football has Richmond brimming with confidence ahead of the midriff of the 2022 season.

Wins against cross-town rivals Hawthorn and Collingwood in the past fortnight have seen the Tigers turn their lowly start to the year into a positive record, now placed with a 5-4 record and a place in the top eight.

The change in tune has hopefully snapped a worrying run of form that dates back to the middle of last season, with Damien Hardwick's side having won just four matches between Round 12 last year and Round 3 of this season.

A failed premiership defence seemed to drag into this year before the club's recent spark of form, with veteran sharpshooter Jack Riewoldt seeing more buoyancy among the playing group as they looked to put the pieces of a premiership run back together.

"We believe that we're a good football club," Riewoldt said.

"We believe we've got the pieces of the puzzle. You need a lot to go right so only time will tell."

A shrinking injury list has played a part in the Tigers' winning run, having lost key names such as Dustin Martin, Kane Lambert, Dion Prestia, Dylan Grimes and Nick Vlastuin throughout the opening several rounds of the year.

While a near-full fit squad is on offer to Hardwick ahead of Richmond's Dreamtime bout with Essendon on Saturday, Riewoldt and the Tigers are cautious of how quick their fortune can change back.

"We're excited with where the group's at. We know it can change pretty quickly at any moment," he said.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 18: Jack Riewoldt of the Tigers listens to Tigers head coach Damien Hardwick during a Richmond Tigers AFL training session at Punt Road Oval on July 18, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

"We're relatively injury free and we're looking to put some time together out in the field to keep developing that connection.

"The form [has] been okay, like we've been playing good footy. I mean, if you break it down, I think we sit maybe third or fourth in terms of quarters won this year.

"While you don't get one point for every quarter, we think that what we've been doing has been good and we've put a building block there [and] now we look to accelerate through the mid part of this year."

A key cog in the club's three-game winning run has been Coleman Medal leader and Tigers spearhead Tom Lynch, who has booted 19 goals from an average of 20 disposals per outing across the club's past three fixtures.

The former Suns' prolific form mirrors the confidence within the Punt Road rooms, with Riewoldt happy to have front row seats to his teammate's dominant displays in attack.

"I think it's probably been reflective of a little bit more dare that we've been showing with the football on offence, and he's reaping the rewards of that," Riewoldt said of Lynch's form.


"We continue to work, we know sides will study us and the way we play and certainly the way that Tom has been spearheading our forward line.

"I don't think I've seen him in better form. He's really confident at the moment, you just look at the way he's launching at the ball with his body.

"The majority of the time he's winning these contests, but also halving them and not getting beaten and then giving guys a chance on the ground."

Lynch's 31-goal haul to start the season places him in reaching distance of surpassing his 2021 goals tally against the Bombers this weekend, where the 29-year-old played 18 games for a return of 35 goals.

That tally was Lynch's lowest in his time at Tigerland, with the club's own campaign heavily questioned after failing to make finals in their premiership defence.

Lynch is proving to be a barometer for Hardwick's side in 2022, with Riewoldt excited for what's to come after a critical past 12 months.

"[For] any teammate you want to see them performing at their best," Riewoldt said.

"I hold a very special place for 'Lynchy' when I think about his game. He's copped some criticism here and there and I love seeing him perform on the big stage."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 24: Tom J. Lynch and Shai Bolton of the Tigers look dejected after losing the round six AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Melbourne Demons at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 24, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Richmond will enter Saturday night's Dreamtime clash heavily-favoured to extend their winning run, with Essendon's form contrasting when juxtaposed to their Victorian rivals.

The media frenzy at Tullamarine in the days leading into the MCG tussle, coupled with the momentous occasion, have Essedon tipped to start their Round 10 clash with a fire lit under their countlessly-criticised squad.

Those expectations have also reached Punt Road, with Riewoldt stressing the need to be "prudent" come the opening bounce.

"We expect a really hardened outfit," he said.

"Obviously they're not going as well as they would have liked to be going. But football is a fickle game.

"The results can change pretty quickly, so expect a really hardened Essendon Football Club to come out and fire shots early. So it's very prudent of us to be ready to go."

The Tigers will face a tough test against the Swans at the SCG next week prior to their Round 11 bye, before further encounters with fellow finals hopefuls Port Adelaide, Carlton and Geelong.