“We have got to get better in that part of the game,” Hardwick said.
“Every now and then it rears its ugly head and unfortunately it was on the big stage…so really disappointing.”
In some ways it was typical of Richmond’s season that has been beset by dramas off the field but Hardwick also suggested that the umpires inability to allow for the intensity of a final didn’t help.
Having told Fox Footy in a half-time interview that the umpires were “trigger-happy” he said they would be better off letting the game flow.
“At the end of the day the game is umpired in a certain way. It’s a final. Let them play. It’s for the players to play,” Hardwick said.
However he did concede Richmond had to wear the blame too.
“We gave away undisciplined free kicks in the back end of that second quarter and the reality is that was the difference in the game,” Hardwick said.
“The players know. They understand. It’s a volatile game. Players are going to get angry.”
Eventually Hardwick became more philosophical acknowledging that the Lions were too good.
“I thought they played very well tonight they deserved to win,” Hardwick said.
“Their system beat ours tonight.”
Despite nominating Metricon Stadium, where they will meet either St Kilda or the Western Bulldogs, the AFL will decide where the Tigers play the final although Richmond’s preference will be a significant factor in the decision.
Hardwick thinks they can regroup and have a serious tilt at the flag despite needing to win their next three matches, which would include a trip to Adelaide against Port Adelaide if they were to win next week.
“Obstacle [creates] opportunity. For us it is all about the growth we can take out of the game,” Hardwick said.
“We look at a loss as a gift as funny as that may seem. We will get to work and there are a couple of things that we can take out of the game that will certainly get us better for next week’s opponent.”
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.