A DISAPPOINTED Damien Hardwick is tipping Richmond to bounce back against Geelong next week after being "manhandled" by North Melbourne on Friday night.

The Tigers significantly lost the contested possession (153-131) and tackle (72-55) counts and the final 37-point margin may even be flattering after they conceded eight straight goals at one point.

TIGERS TUMBLE TO TOUGH ROOS Full match coverage and stats

Richmond entered the contest inside the top four and fresh from four straight victories, but never looked likely other than a brief patch late in the first half where it briefly hit the front.

"What we're finding in the competition at the moment is it's very hard to win consecutive games on end," Hardwick said.

"I think we'd won four on the trot (but) there hasn't been a great sequence of long streaks winning games, so the competition's incredibly even and you can be off by 10 per cent and get smacked around like we did tonight.

"It's disappointing. We've played some good footy but tonight was well below our best.

"But that's probably taking a little bit away from North. I thought they were outstanding in the contest and taught us a lesson."

WATCH Damien Hardwick's full post-match media conference

Hardwick noticed changes in the Kangaroos' style under caretaker coach Rhyce Shaw, including a greater reliance on kicking down the line after they were reluctant to do so this season.

The confidence to do so was, perhaps, aided by North's big forwards – Ben Brown, Mason Wood and Nick Larkey – combining to take seven contested marks.

However, the Tigers' coach was quick to defend his backline, pointing the finger squarely at how easily the ball was coming in.

"We were just getting smashed in and around the contest, so once again, we spoke about that after the game," Hardwick said.

"You can have the best plans in place to play but if you get belted up around the contest, you're always going to look disorganised, and that's what happens.

"The amount of times they just come in with smooth possession chain, and our backs are left hanging out, that's going to happen when you don't really compete as hard as you probably should."

Captain Trent Cotchin played his first match since round three after a hamstring injury and had 15 of his 23 disposals to half-time.

"He got through OK," Hardwick said.

"We knew there was going to be some rust, and the speed of the game and the competitive nature of it was going to take some time, but he'll be better for the experience.

"I thought he contributed well, though."

Hardwick also said star forward Tom Lynch, a physical target of North's all game, could have received more help from the umpires.

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