The Tigers have snapped an unwanted 23-year streak after storming to the top of the ladder with a 46-point win over Melbourne on Tuesday night.
The Demons trailed by just six points in the third quarter, but the Tigers slammed home seven of the last nine goals of the game to score a 15.12 (102) to 8.8 (56) win in front of 77,071 fans.
It’s the first time since 1995 that Richmond have found themselves atop the ladder, ending a streak of 506 rounds – the longest previous streak in the AFL.
And in a poetic twist, the Demons now have the longest streak since sitting first on the ladder at 295 rounds.
Dustin Martin was quiet early but warmed into the contest to finish with 26 possessions, including 10 clearances.
Kane Lambert (29 disposals), Shane Edwards (26) and Bachar Houli (26) were also important, while Jack Higgins led the way in attack with three goals in just his second game.
It was another uneven performance from Melbourne, who slipped to a 2-3 record with the loss.
The Demons endured nine days of intense criticism after their limp effort in a 67-point thumping by Hawthorn and they started like they had a point to prove.
But while they had the Tigers on the back foot, they let themselves down with costly skill errors.
Richmond soaked up the early pressure and counter-attacked effectively when opportunities presented to lead by three points at the first break.
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin conceded his erratic team couldn’t be trusted in the lead-up to the big clash and they wilted under the Tigers’ pressure in the second quarter.
Martin and Reece Conca got on top at the stoppages and Richmond should have been more than 20 points up at halftime after dominating the inside-50 count 19-5.
The Demons suffered a blow when Dean Kent’s night ended with a hamstring injury, but they took the fight back up to the Tigers after the restart.
Clayton Oliver (31 possessions) and Nathan Jones (30) provided the spark as the margin was sliced to just six points, but as they had done all night, Damien Hardwick’s men answered the challenge.
They led by 19 points at three-quarter time and finished the fading Demons in clinical fashion.
Jake Melksham kicked a career-high four goals and Max Gawn had 56 hitouts, but Melbourne had too many passengers.
The Tigers move on to a round-six clash against Collingwood on Sunday, while the Demons will take on Essendon at Etihad Stadium.