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Tigers lacked late composure, says Hardwick

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We probably stopped trying to win, sometimes you can try and protect the game too much
Damien Hardwick

RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick says his side "stopped trying to win" as they held off a late Hawthorn charge at the MCG on Sunday.  

When Dan Butler converted to put the Tigers 39 points up five minutes into the final term, the Tigers started protecting the game as the Hawks mounted a comeback.

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Hawthorn managed eight of the next 10 scoring shots, giving Hardwick plenty of ammunition ahead next week's clash with Brisbane.

"I was probably disappointed at stages with the last quarter," Hardwick said post-game.  

"I thought we lacked a little bit of composure going across the arc. 

"We probably stopped trying to win, sometimes you can try and protect the game too much.  

"It's a good learning point for us, we went back on our heels a little bit and tried to control the ball instead of playing the game the way we wanted to play.

"There'll be some nice things for us to review on the tape." 

After conceding 18 goals in last week's loss to Adelaide, the Tigers focused on restricting the Hawks during the week, pulling out tapes of their best defensive efforts.

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It worked for the first three terms, the Hawks kicking seven majors as defenders Alex Rance (10 marks), David Astbury (eight), Bachar Houli (11) and the returning Nick Vlastuin (10) picked off attacking forays.  

"Where we had to defend hard and fast, I thought we did that really, really well," Hardwick said.  

"Overall I was pretty happy with our endevaour in and around the contest which was much improved over last week.  

"We've still got a little bit of work to do in that area of our game though, which is another exciting prospect for me to make us better." 

Defensive midfielder Jack Graham went to Hawks ball magnet Tom Mitchell at the opening bounce before going separate ways, the Tigers instead trying to control the collective rather than the individual.  

"We had he (Mitchell) and Trent (Cotchin) going head to head, then we went Jack Graham at various stages," Hardwick said.  

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"We were happy and I think Hawthorn would be the same, how that match-up went for both sides.  

"He's (Mitchell) a tough player to stop. He's so clean.

"You can tag him and he might get 30, he's just so effective, he's so good and he's so smart." 

Premiership defender Nathan Broad is available from his club-imposed three-match suspension next week, and while Josh Caddy (suspension) will return, Dion Prestia (glute) will be assessed later in the week after he was withdrawn from the side on Friday.  

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The performance of debutant Jack Higgins is sure to give Hardwick a selection headache, after two goals operating in a small forward trio alongside Dan Butler and Jason Castagna, with Dan Rioli closing in on a return.

"He's still learning the way we play but he looks an AFL player with his decision making, his ability to create contest," Hardwick said.

"My bloody recruiters keep drafting them and they're good players so I keep playing them. 

"Jack will move eventually into the midfield once he develops his tank and his style of play."

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