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Proud Hardwick has 'absolute belief' in Tigers

'We just couldn't close out the game' Richmond coach Damien Hardwick says he's disappointed his side was unable to get the result
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 22:  Shai Bolton of the Richmond Tigers kicks the ball during the round two VFL match between Sandringham and Richmond at Trevor Barker Beach Oval on April 22, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/AFL Media)
Shai Bolton showed glimpses for the future
“I walk away as a coach incredibly proud of our boys
Damien Hardwick

CRITICS will likely line up Richmond after yet another close loss, but coach Damien Hardwick will promote a glass half-full mindset as he helps his side overcome the psychological damage of the past fortnight. 

Hardwick labelled the gut-wrenching three-point loss to Greater Western Sydney at Spotless Stadium on Saturday “heartbreaking”. Even opposing coach Leon Cameron graciously declared the Tigers the better team on the night. 

Nevertheless, surrendering two matches on the trot in the final unforgiving seconds can lead even the most experienced heads to wonder what is going on. 

Full match coverage and stats

“You can look at it both ways - we’ve lost to the Bulldogs by a kick, we’ve lost to GWS by a kick,” Hardwick said.

“I walk away as a coach incredibly proud of our boys. I think they’ve taken it up to every side they’ve played - we had that one bad game versus Adelaide … our players, when they come to play, they give great effort, great intent. 

“I walk away really disappointed we lost. We should have won, no doubt about that, but I thought the intensity and effort our guys gave was really high.”

Five talking points: Greater Western Sydney v Richmond

A fateful score review - which ruled that debutant Shai Bolton’s late snapped goal was in fact touched, thereby ruling it a behind - ended up with Jeremy Cameron scoring the winning goal at the other end about 90 seconds later. The Tigers had led the entire match to that point.

“We’ll certainly focus on that last play, that last couple of minutes,” he said.

“We probably found that we were attacking feverishly - we had 16 inside 50s. We just couldn’t quite capitalise and get that shot on goal. We kicked five behinds in the last quarter. If we kicked goals, it was probably over.

“Unfortunately our conversion let us down and then defensive set-up behind the ball let us down.

WATCH: Damien Hardwick's full post-match press conference

“Half our forward line are teenagers. We’ve got Jack Riewoldt one out, they’ve got [Jon] Patton, Cameron, [Rory] Lobb. I’ve got young players playing up there, doing their absolute best. I thought they battled as hard as they could for as long as they could, but just probably fell out of range at the end.”

Hardwick said he had “absolute belief” in his playing list.

“They’re a lot better than we’ve had before. As I’ve said previously, our best footy’s still in front of us.

“We’ve got young, developing players who are going to get better as the year progresses, we’ve got some players that we’re looking forward to coming back in at some stage.

“We’ll get there again. We have to.”