RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick sensed his side was in trouble as the Cats' landslide of inside 50 entries began to take their toll in a pulsating final quarter at the MCG on Sunday.

With his team up by 35 points at three-quarter time, Hardwick knew the job was not done and he told his players to steel themselves for a desperate Geelong fight back in the final quarter. 

The Cats booted six goals to Richmond's one in the final quarter to pinch a four-point victory in a game that should have been in the Tigers' keeping.

Full match coverage and stats

"When you [concede] 19 inside 50s (in the final quarter) you're battling against the dam wall. We just couldn't win any ball across half forward. We're disappointed but at the end of the day the better side won," Hardwick said. 

Asked whether his side had blown the opportunity or whether they were powerless to stop the Cats' run on, Hardwick was equivocal in his response. 

"A bit of both. We didn't take a couple of chances when we went inside 50 and when we didn't take those chances they got three goals from their back end (their defence)."

"We were always going to be in a bit of trouble when you give up that amount of entries."

Five talking points: Richmond v Geelong

Geelong's inside 50 dominance (19-5) was just one of the issues facing the Tigers in the final term, as the Cats got on top in the clearances (11-6) and in the contested ball (40-26) count.

Another problem Hardwick had to contend with was identifying the right matchups for Harry Taylor and Lachie Henderson, who were thrown forward in the final term.

"They stretched us that way. We were undersized up the other end. We knew that going into the game," Hardwick said.

"They had 21 contested marks (to the Tigers' eight) and we just didn't have the cattle to combat against that.

"That's why we tried to control the ball a little bit and use it, but eventually it wore us down. Defensively they tightened up (in the final term) and we were forced into kicking long down the line."

Hardwick said a number of the club's young players again showed positive signs. However he warned Oleg Markov, Ben Lennon, Daniel Rioli and Nathan Drummond and Jayden Short would be carefully managed through the final fortnight of the season.

"Oleg is playing some good footy. We've got to be careful because the fatigue factor will creep in. Rioli was touch and go this week, he missed a fair bit of training," Hardwick said.

"Oleg will be the same next week. We've just got to manage those guys a little bit. Realistically there's not a lot to play for so we've got to make sure those guys come through unscathed in their first seasons."

Even with Geelong's final quarter dominance, Richmond had one last chance to win the game when Jack Riewoldt, playing in his 200th game, fell excruciatingly short of hauling in an unbelievable attempt at a pack mark with just 10 seconds remaining on the clock.

"He's disappointed. He's an emotional guy, as you can imagine. It would've been great to win for Jack. It would've been a nice little fairytale in the end, but life's not about fairytales just ask some of the Olympians," Hardwick said.