Hawthorn star Cyril Rioli swatted aside criticism about his form with a best-afield performance in Sunday’s AFL 66-point win over Richmond.
Rioli tore the game apart with four goals in the third term and led the Hawks to the 18.10 (118) to 7.10 (52) win at the MCG.
Hawks defender Josh Gibson was reported when he went to spoil Reece Conca on the wing late in the last quarter and cannoned into him.
The heavy contact sparked a melee and forced Conca from the field.
After quiet games against Gold Coast and Geelong, Rioli was back to his best at Richmond’s expense.
A Sunday newspaper column by former Essendon great Matthew Lloyd questioned whether the utility was over-rated.
The two-time premiership player and 2012 All-Australian gave an emphatic response.
Rioli was prominent from the start as the Hawks jumped Richmond and took 19-point lead at quarter-time.
After losing for the first time this season last week, Hawthorn started much better and pressured the Tigers into costly turnovers.
Richmond matched Hawthorn in the second term, but did not capitalise on their good work and the Hawks kicked two goals to one.
The Tigers had won their last two games against Hawthorn and there were hopes of a second-half comeback.
The first two minutes of the third term put paid to that.
Rioli and then David Hale kicked quick goals to kill off the contest.
Rioli’s second goal of the quarter came when he superbly intercepted a handball from Tigers backman Ricky Petterd.
It was a big match for the Hawks, with Sam Mitchell and Shaun Burgyone playing their 250th games.
Mitchell, Burgoyne and captain Luke Hodge all featured in Hawthorn’s best.
The loss leaves the Tigers in growing trouble with only two wins from their opening six games.
Brandon Ellis and captain Trent Cotchin worked hard in the midfield for the Tigers.