A relieved Damien Hardwick has lauded Richmond's resilience after the Tigers survived a brutal examination from Sydney to strengthen their bid for back-to-back flags.
The Tigers on Thursday night underscored their AFL premiership favouritism, downing the Swans by 26 points in a spiteful and scintillating top-two showdown at Etihad Stadium.
The 14.9 (93) to 11.1 (67) victory puts the reigning premiers a game clear atop the ladder with third-placed West Coast set to face Adelaide on Saturday.
Richmond led at every break but looked vulnerable during the final quarter before goals to Kane Lambert and Shane Edwards put the victory beyond doubt.
The Swans laid a massive 83 tackles - the AFL average per game is 65 - but were wasteful with the ball and lacked big contributions beyond the ever-reliable Luke Parker (23 disposals, two goals) and skipper Josh Kennedy (37 touches).
It was nonetheless a bruising test for the Tigers, who lost Reece Conca to a suspected broken ankle in the first quarter and were without banged-up trio Trent Cotchin, Josh Caddy and Jack Graham at various stages of the game.
"It was a full-on game," Hardwick said.
"That first half was brutal ... it was contest after contest.
"(Facing Sydney), it's just a real game based on grit, passion and perseverance, and we spoke about it throughout the night.
"I thought our guys showed real perseverance and we had to overcome some adversity."
Just two of Richmond's eight remaining opponents - Collingwood and Geelong - are in the top eight and the Tigers will host five of those games at their MCG fortress.
But Hardwick is refusing to look beyond the Tigers' next assignment, saying their premiership defence is getting tougher by the week.
"Adelaide embarrassed us last time over in Adelaide so we're just looking forward to that challenge on Friday week," he said.
"We've obviously got some sore boys and we've got to make sure we get them up to play again.
"Every week is as hard as the next week. We don't look too far back; we just keep looking forward. That's our highest challenge."
Jack Riewoldt was best-afield with three goals and 16 marks while Lambert (three goals, 27 disposals) carried Richmond's midfield.
"He's been such a solid contributor for us this year without probably getting the plaudits of the outside world," Hardwick said of Riewoldt.
"That game I think was as good a game as I've seen him play."