Hardwick urges AFL Tigers to take a stand

Brett Deledio was a late withdrawal, Jack Riewoldt got injured, Alex Rance was reported and Richmond were outclassed by Melbourne in a 33-point loss on a horror Sunday night for the Tigers.

Damien Hardwick’s side slipped into all-too-familiar territory at 1-4, putting themselves behind the eight ball once again as they attempt to make the finals. Their pre-season goal of making the top four is seemingly already out of reach.

The developing Demons haven’t played finals for a decade but Hardwick labelled them a class above his Tigers, who have been to the finals in the past three seasons.

The coach conceded time was running out for his team to take a stand and make a start on their latest salvage mission.

“At some stage we as a football club will stand up and say ‘Listen, enough is enough and we need to get on with it’,” Hardwick said.

“The reality is our players put on a jumper and they’re expected to play a certain way and we let ourselves down tonight. That’s on me, my coaching group and our club as a whole.

“It’s not good enough for the type of club we are. We have been here before, we’ll dig deep, we’ll find some answers and we’ll come out a better side.”

Deledio wasn’t quite ready to return from the quad injury that’s sidelined him all season. Richmond’s latest defeat takes their win-loss record without the star midfielder since 2014 to three wins and 11 losses.

Hardwick expects he will be ready to return next week when they take on Port Adelaide at the MCG in a pivotal clash for both under performing sides.

The availability of Riewoldt and Rance is less certain.

Riewoldt picked up an ankle injury in the fourth quarter that will be assessed early in the week, while the AFL’s match review panel will decide if Rance can play.

The All Australian defender dropped his forearm into the back of Jack Watts’ head late in the game in an ugly incident that is likely to be punished.

“He’s disappointed with the action, obviously,” Hardwick said.

“It’s unlike Alex, he was frustrated, but there’s not much I can say about it.”

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