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Lynch stars in Tigers' AFL rout of Hawks

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick believes Tom Lynch is in career-best AFL form after the star forward's eight-goal haul helped the Tigers to a 61-point thrashing of Hawthorn at the MCG.

The Tigers locked up their finals position with an ominous display on Sunday, racking up their third straight win as the rebuilding Hawks wilted.

Richmond had the game wrapped up at quarter-time after booting six goals to one, before storming to a confidence-boosting 20.8 (128) to 9.13 (67) victory in front of 59,338 fans.

Hawthorn trailed by 73 points at the final change, but they were able to keep the score respectable by winning the last quarter.

After missing finals last year for the first time since 2016, Richmond will be back in September as they look to recapture their premiership triumphs of 2017, 2019 and 2020.

They won't be in the top-four as they were during those flag years but with triple Norm Smith medallist Dustin Martin likely to return for the finals, rival teams will be worried about what the Tigers could do.

Lynch monstered the inexperienced and under-sized Hawthorn defence, going through three opponents before Hawks star James Sicily went to him during the third quarter.

The 29-year-old started in blistering fashion, slotting three goals in the first quarter as everything he did turned to gold in an equal career-best effort.

Lynch looked set to be the first player this season to bag a 10-goal haul after entering three-quarter-time with eight, but Sicily kept him goal-less in the last term.

Hardwick believes Lynch, who has 55 goals from 17 games this season, is in his prime.

"There's a reason key forwards are highly regarded, and you've got to remember it's the first full pre-season he's (Lynch) had since he's been at our footy club (back in 2019)," Hardwick said.

"He's basically played off zero prep the other seasons we've had him so it's really significant that he does get the work in.

"You just see how big and strong he looks in the contest."

The only sour note for Richmond was a foot injury to Jack Graham, with the premiership midfielder subbed out for Jason Castagna in the last term.

Richmond will finish off their regular season campaign with a Saturday night clash with Essendon, while the Hawks (8-13) will have a chance to ruin the desperate Western Bulldogs' slim finals hopes in Launceston.

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell believes the Hawks took a "step backwards" against Richmond.

"Going into this season, this wasn't going to be the year for us, we knew it was going to be a year of laying foundations," Mitchell said.

"Next week is one more step in the direction of building a club and a team that's going to win finals year after year."