RICHMOND is yet to reach its peak despite an unblemished pre-season, but coach Damien Hardwick doesn't think that's necessarily a bad thing heading into an opening round clash against Carlton in 11 days' time.
The Tigers were exceptionally inconsistent against Hawthorn in Tasmania on Saturday night, but found a way to turn around a 40-point half-time deficit with an inspired second half.
The narrow eight-point win over Hawthorn follows an equally narrow but far steadier victory over Melbourne in the first game of the JLT Community Series.
TIGERS ROAR BACK Full match coverage and stats
"I look back at last year and think we were a little too advanced at this time of year and this time around we're not quite to the level that we were and we've got some work to do," Hardwick said.
"But we're reasonably happy to walk away with a win tonight and to get some really positive performances from some of our players (was pleasing)."
The Tigers' uncharacteristic lack of pressure around the contest allowed Hawthorn to move the ball with freedom in the first half.
"It was a weird game. I think if you ask us and Hawthorn, we're both pretty happy with the half we played each and then there's a half we'd be disappointed in," Hardwick said.
"We were disappointed with our ability to hunt the contest and I think the second quarter was probably as poor of a quarter as we've played for… I was going to say the preliminary final, to be fair.
"It was disappointing but we readjusted a few things, spoke about a couple of things at half-time and they got to work and got some pretty good performances out of our players that will make it tough for selection in round one."
Hardwick highlighted the efforts of Trent Cotchin for dragging his side back into the game, with the Tigers skipper collecting 10 touches and kicking two vital goals late in the game to lead his side to victory.
However, he was also impressed with Jack Graham's intent, particularly in the third quarter, and the impact Connor Menadue, Liam Baker and former Saint Maverick Weller had when they came on in the second half.
Defender Nick Vlastuin was managed and taken off the ground in the second half, but could have played on and will be right to face the Blues in round one, according to Hardwick.
Meanwhile, Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said it would not just be up to Jaeger O'Meara to cover the loss of star midfielder Tom Mitchell, who has been ruled out for the rest of the year with a broken leg.
O'Meara was outstanding against the Tigers with a match-high 35 disposals, while James Worpel and James Cousins proved they could be two young Hawks who could blossom in Mitchell's absence.
"We need a whole series of players to try to fill some of that gap that's been left with Tom's absence," Clarkson said.
"Who would've thought that West Coast could possibly win the Grand Final without Naitanui, Gaff and Sheppard? It (injuries) happens in the game, we're going to miss 'Mitch' but that doesn't mean we're out of it by any stretch.
"We'll find some players who can fill the role for us and march forward."
INSPIRED HAWKS Alastair Clarkson's full post-match media conference
Clarkson would not be drawn on commenting on the gut punch midfielder Liam Shiels delivered to Graham in the third quarter of the match, which could come under the scrutiny of Match Review Officer Michael Christian.
The Hawks coach deflected to his dissatisfaction at James Frawley giving away a 100m penalty in the preceding play to Jack Riewoldt.
"I was more concerned with the fact that a 100m penalty cost us a goal. We'll see what happens," Clarkson said.