What we learned: Tigers definitely the ones to beat this September

THE GABBA, Brisbane -- A deadly accurate Richmond has won through to the preliminary finals for the third straight year after coming from behind to thrash Brisbane in front of the biggest AFL crowd ever seen at the Gabba.

The Tigers withstood an opening quarter barrage from the home side before working their way into the contest and eventually kicking nine straight goals on their way to a 47-point win in front of 37,478 fans.

Richmond will now enjoy the week off while Brisbane will return to the Gabba next weekend to face GWS for a place in the last four.

Here's four things we learned from the game...

When the Tigers flex they are almost unbeatable

Every footy fan, every bookmaker and just about everybody else had Richmond winning the 2019 premiership before finals had even begun.

To be honest, it was a fair enough assessment. The Tigers entered September having won nine straight games, soaring from the bottom of the eight to top four in the process.

Brisbane at the Gabba was always going to be a difficult first assignment and when they fell behind early and the crowd got vocal, there was some genuine panic. Was this side going to live up to the hype?

But that question was emphatically answered in the second and third quarters. After absorbing the early Lions barrage, Richmond responded. They tightened up in all the key statistical areas and, unlike their opponents, were ultra efficient when attacking.

In the third quarter, they tore the game open. A seven goal to two term put the result beyond doubt with a quarter still to play.

The sign of a champion team is the ability to lift when tested and the Tigers ticked that box on Saturday night. They will now return to the MCG and play the winner of next week's Geelong vs. West Coast semifinal. No matter who they play, they will be favourites, and rightly so.

There's no such thing as a bad final for Dusty

Halfway through the second term Dustin Martin was looking as though Brisbane was the last place in the world he wanted to be.

He couldn't get near the ball and was having almost no impact on the game. Remember, this was the same guy who entered finals having been arguably best on ground in the final five weeks of the home and away season.

But just before halftime Damien Hardwick played around with the magnets on his whiteboard and sent his star to the goal square. The 2017 Brownlow medalist delivered and reminded everyone why he's the competition's greatest player when in full flight.

Martin kicked six goals straight from his 14 disposals. He kicked them from stoppages, he kicked them from set shots and he kicked them on the run. It was a true masterclass.

Geelong coach Chris Scott loves to deploy Patrick Dangerfield forward, but the difference between Martin and 'Danger' is that the Tiger has the goal sense and class around goals. He still looms as the biggest game-breaker in the competition and when he can turn it on like that when he's having a dirty night speaks volumes.

The Lions proved they can compete with the best in finals

Alright, it wasn't a night Brisbane fans will want to remember for very long, but don't forget what happened in the first quarter.

The Lions absolutely owned the opening term, finishing +17 in inside 50s, +14 in contested possessions and +6 in clearances. However, for all of the dominance they only led by two goals at the first change.

On another day, a more accurate day, the game could have been just about over by quarter time. Instead, routine misses for Cameron Rayner, Dan McStay and Oscar McInerney, among others, saw the home side blow their chance to bury the visitors.

With Richmond hitting their straps at the other end of the ground, the Lions' spirit was broken and the margin began to blow out.

At one stage in the third quarter the Tigers were converting a goal from 44 percent of their inside 50s, a stark contrast to Brisbane's lowly 11 percent. That sort of conversion rate is not exactly sustainable, but if the Lions get another crack at them in this finals series they just simply have to take their chances. Forget the Tigers, they'll have to take those chances next week against GWS or it could be a straight set elimination.

Mitch Robinson is built for September

He may have played five finals for Carlton, but it's fair to say nobody truly appreciated the toughness and competitive edge Mitch Robinson brought to the table when the spotlight is on.

The Lions winger, who has enjoyed a career best season in 2019, provided the early spark for the home side with nine disposals in the first quarter.

But it wasn't the numbers he amassed which was most valuable for Brisbane, instead it was the combative, hard-nosed and determined nature of his game which rubbed off on teammates. He threw his body around with no regard for his safety and the crowd could sense the intensity, rising every time he touched the Sherrin.

Brisbane dominated the first quarter, but as mentioned, they couldn't capitalise and Robinson's early work counted for naught.

He continued to toil away, though, and finished the game with 22 disposals (19 kicks), seven marks and seven inside 50s.

The good news for Lions fans is that Robinson always seems to lift his game after a loss. Giants, you've been warned.