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Tigers embrace high expectations

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick says Richmond isn't ignoring the hype around its undefeated start - ${keywords}
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick says Richmond isn't ignoring the hype around its undefeated start
RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick says the Tigers will embrace the expectations that are sure to come with their undefeated start to the season and are already anticipating next Saturday's clash with Collingwood.  

The Tigers, having beaten the Western Bulldogs by 67 points on Sunday at Etihad Stadium, have now won their opening three games for the first time since 1995.

Hardwick said they wouldn't shy away from their start and the hype it would generate, and would carry that into next week's appointment with the Pies.

"We spoke about it. The best place to be is where expectations are high," Hardwick said.

"We've spoken about the fact that's when you get your best results.

"We're playing some OK footy – today was probably another step forward. We weren't overly happy with our first two games with the way we played so this week it was a step forward."

Midfielder Daniel Jackson, who Hardwick said had been their best player over the first three games, said the Tigers' 13-to-seven-goal second half was a strong positive they would take from the win.

"In the pre-season, we didn't really feel like we were playing anywhere near our best football but were getting across the line in some tight games, which is something we haven't been doing in the past," Jackson said.

"The next step is putting teams to the sword when we're up and running so that is something we're going to have to keep working on, keep being composed and playing smart football even when we're ahead.

"If it's a close game and we get across the line that's great but also to have some convincing victories as well is something we haven't done that well in the past."

Hardwick said conversation shifted to the round four match against what he rates as the best midfield in the competition in the debrief following Sunday's game.

"I think our boys are looking forward to it. We spoke about it after the game; you take the four points and you move on but you certainly look forward to the next challenge," he said.

"The fact there may be 90,000 people there on a Saturday afternoon, which not many sides get to play in front of, we're very excited to take on the challenge.

"They're a very good side, they've had some great wins thus far so we'll certainly take it head on."

Outside of the standout players that included Brett Deledio, Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin – who shook the tag of Nick Lower - Hardwick said Shaun Grigg had caught the eye.

Grigg played alongside Tom Liberatore, who has been a machine at the stoppages this season, and kept the small Bulldog to 10 disposals and two clearances.

Hardwick also conceded it had been a largely frustrating day for Jack Riewoldt, with the goalkicker giving off six free kicks before he booted three of his five goals in the last quarter.

"There's a couple of those we'll look at; I think they were in the back and that's something we'll work with Jack on," he said.

"The pleasing thing for us was all those frees against, two were from a contested marking situation and two were from a tackling point of view so at least he's competing with the ball.

"We were really pleased with Luke [McGuane], Jack and Ty [Vickery]. Ty didn't have a scoreboard day today but his movement and pattern was very, very good.

"There are guys going to kick certain goals one day but we're certainly looking to spread that load, which we did well today."

He said late withdrawal Jake Batchelor had pulled up from Tuesday's training session with a sore calf but could have played had there been a match-up for him.

Daniel Jackson is a midfielder in NAB AFL Fantasy. He averaged 74.63 points in 2012. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy Hub.

Jennifer Phelan is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow her on Twitter @AFL_JenPhelan.
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs