RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick has backed his side to "push the envelope" with its on-field aggression after key forward Tom Lynch thrust himself into the Match Review Officer spotlight again.
Lynch was excellent in his return to the Tigers' line-up in his side's semi-final win over St Kilda, albeit wasteful in front of goal (he finished with 2.5). But the performance included another incident that will draw the attention of the MRO after his scuffle with Saints backman Dougal Howard.
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The pair were tangled after a marking contest on the ground and Lynch sat on Howard's head before leaning into his neck with his left knee as he stepped up.
Lynch has been cited for striking three times this year, including being sent directly to the AFL Tribunal for an incident involving Bomber Michael Hurley in round 13.
Hardwick said he "wouldn't have thought" the premiership forward would have any concerns ahead of next week's preliminary final bout with Port Adelaide and that he would back the Tigers to play in a physical manner.
"Great teams always play on the edge and the fact of the matter is it's a big boys' game," he said post-game.
"Things happen and players will always play hard and tough and there's a reason we're in our fourth prelim in a row: we play a hard, tough brand of footy and there's no way I'd discourage it from our players, that's for sure. Because if you take that away from them they're not the competitive beasts we know they are.
"Our guys understand the rules, they'll push the envelope there's no doubt about that, but our boys play the game pretty tough."
Lynch returned from his hamstring injury to play an important role in what Hardwick described was a "solid" win over St Kilda, with the former Suns skipper a dominant force in the air. Hardwick defended his physicality.
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"He was outstanding tonight. You only have to look at the way he competes in the air against two defenders most of the time as well. I thought he was significant in our victory," Hardwick said.
"He's an aggressive player and the way he jumps into packs is incredible. I think what happens is we tend to focus on the 20 per cent and not the 80 per cent and we don't look at him smashing two blokes and getting the ball to ground for Shai Bolton to kick two or three goals – we look at the incident that's miniscule.
"That's what we do in society, I reckon. We concentrate on the negatives not the positives."
Richmond will head into its fourth straight preliminary final knowing it will take its best to overcome the Power, who toppled the Tigers in round 11 by 21 points in one of the games of the season.
Hardwick described the trip to Adelaide Oval next Friday night as a "massive, massive challenge".
"They've been the best side all year, they're playing on their home deck, it's a hostile environment but we can't wait to get over there and challenge them. The scoreboard flattered us a little bit over there [last time]," he said.
"It was a good game of footy but the reality is they dominated a lot of KPI (key performance indicators) areas so we've got a fair bit of work to do to catch them and make sure we play a hell of a lot better than we did."