How the 'Tiger Tidal Wave' is sweeping all before it

Don't worry about GWS's 'Orange Tsunami' or the 'Weagles' Web', it's the 'Tiger Tidal Wave' that AFL flag hopefuls should be worried about.

Richmond have stormed into premiership favouritism following a 32-point smashing of Collingwood in wet weather on Friday night, and while it was prized recruit Tom Lynch and Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin who stole the show up forward, they were the clear benefactors of a style of football that is proving extremely hard to stop - even by an (admittedly weakened) top four contender.

Lynch kicked four stunning first-half goals (five for the match) and Martin kicked two during a dominant 38-touch game, but it was the Tigers' aggressive, handball-happy style of play that continues to be the cornerstone of their powerful surge towards September.

According to Champion Data, the Tigers amassed +204 handball metres gained to Collingwood's -23 on the night, which, as the stat suggests, is metres gained through passing by hand, and includes any running before the handball.

While the wet conditions ensured the Tigers were well down on their season average of +477 metres (to Round 17) -- and their remarkable post-bye average of +630 metres (a staggering 464 more than their nearest opponents) -- they still managed to swarm the contest in wave after wave, pushing the ball forward with run, carry and by hand.

To put in perspective just how much the Tigers are leaning on this style in the second half of the year, the gap between their handball metres gained (+630 between Rounds 15 and 18) and the No. 2 team in that stat is almost 400 metres (Melbourne is No. 2 at +241 metres).

The extent to which the Tigers swarm, run, handball and carry has increased dramatically through the season, and it's a style which no other club is implementing.

When they moved forward on Friday night, they looked dynamic and assured - a case highlighted by the silver service Lynch and Martin received for most of the night. Conversely, and with no effective focal point in attack, Collingwood's forward movements seemed more lethargic and hopeful.

In the first quarter, and in teeming rain, the Tigers had a kick to handball ratio of just 1.3:1, while Collingwood tried to move the ball forward by foot, with a ratio of 2:1. Ordinarily in wet weather footy, players are advised to simply get the ball forward and are told to opt against trying too many 'cute' movements by hand, but Richmond backed their system and as a result opened up a 26-point quarter time lead.

The weather clearly didn't faze the Tigers, who on more than one occasion thoughtfully exited back 50 with a flurry of handballs - in complete contrast to the Collingwood defence which often blasted away to clear the zone.

Speaking to ESPN following the win Richmond small forward Jason Castagna says the tidal wave or run and handball is "absolutely" a style of footy that can stand up in finals.

"I guess when we playing footy we like to run in numbers, and on a night like this, you just want to get the ball forward. I guess it works for us," Castagna said of the handball-heavy game.

"If we can keep getting our boys around the contest and run in numbers then I think it'll certainly hold up in finals."

Castagna said there was also an emphasis on opening up space in the forward line for the likes of Lynch, Martin and Jack Riewoldt to run into - space which Richmond seemed to have, but Collingwood didn't in their attacking arc.

"With Jack and Lynchy up forward, they're two of the best forwards in the AFL. As small forwards, if we can give them the space to lead into and then get to their feet, then it's good for us, good for them and good for the team," Castagna told ESPN.

"(Lynch) is going really well, he's in some good form and playing good footy, and he's really good at ground level as well, bringing us small forwards into the game."

But it's not just the style of play that blew the Pies out of the water early; in the first term the Tigers racked up nine scoring shots (five goals and four behinds) from just 15 inside 50s, while the Pies managed just one goal and two behinds from their nine entries.

Unsurprisingly, the Tigers have now moved into premiership favouritism, and with their remaining home and away games all to be played at the MCG, Castagna says there is a sense of comfort knowing the Tigers don't have to travel on their run home.

"Yeah it is good," Castagna admits, "We love playing at the 'G - personally I love playing here and we'll hopefully play in some finals here as well."