RICHMOND will need to tighten its discipline ahead of next week's Grand Final rematch, with coach Damien Hardwick concerned after his team gave away seven goals from free kicks in Thursday night's season opener.

The umpires were red hot on the protected area rule at the MCG, with Richmond on the wrong end of the whistle as Carlton benefited from several 50m penalties to push the reigning premiers in an entertaining clash.

Hardwick said he was happy with the rule as long as it was applied consistently this season, and his team would not make the same mistakes when it takes on the Crows in round two.

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"It's a rule, we understand that, and we've got some work to do on that part of the game," Hardwick said after the Tigers opened their account with a 26-point win. 

"But if the rules are in play I'm very happy provided they are consistent, because that way we know what we're playing with.

"I thought we gave away too many cheap free kicks. We gave away seven goals from free kicks tonight.

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"So we've got to get our discipline better, we were disappointed with that part of our game, there's no doubt."

Hardwick said the Tigers would also need to improve at boundary throw-ins, while their defensive structure could also do with some tweaking ahead of the blockbuster against the Crows.

But there was plenty to smile about for the coach, whose midfielders – particularly superstar Dustin Martin and captain Trent Cotchin – stepped up in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line.

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"The pleasing thing for us, we played well enough to win but we've certainly got to get better for the Adelaide Crows next week," Hardwick said. 

Richmond dominated the forward entries 71-47 but kicked an inaccurate 17.19, suggesting there is significant short-term improvement in the premiers if they kick straight.

The Blues, meanwhile, kicked an accurate 15.5, with Charlie Curnow and Matthew Wright each kicking 5.0. 

"They got some goals from the goalsquare through our free kicks against and they had 20 shots on goal," Hardwick said.  

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"If we keep most sides to 20 shots on goal we're pretty happy with that … our accuracy was probably a bit of a concern."

Hardwick remained content to play Shaun Grigg as a second ruckman, with the Tigers continuing to win centre clearances (18-14) when the midfielder was taking the bounce.

The coach was also happy with the team's small forward structure, with Josh Caddy (three goals) and Jacob Townsend (four) able to hit the scoreboard while also competing in the air.

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