Hardwick denies finals hopes in tatters

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick denies his side's finals hopes are in tatters despite the Tigers' lacklustre performance in Friday night's 38-point loss to Collingwood.

Hardwick's men slumped to a 1-3 win-loss record and while the coach admitted there was plenty of cause for concern, he said the season was still alive.

"We've just got to make sure we get back to playing some good footy … we'll worry about the season when it comes to that crunch time, but we've just got to get back to our confident best and playing the brand of footy we know we can," Hardwick said.

"We're nowhere near it at the moment.

"Our guys can play, make no mistake, but we've just got to find our mojo and get our boys back up and going."

Trent Cotchin was restricted to just 13 possessions by tagger Brent Macaffer and, while he stopped short of criticising the umpires, Hardwick made it clear that he felt his skipper had received a raw deal.

"He's a better man than I am, put it that way, Cotch," he said of Macaffer's physical approach.

"There are some people out there that do give the protection. At the end of the day, I'll be showing my players that's how you tag. [Macaffer] did an outstanding job."

The Tigers travel to Brisbane to take on the Lions next week, and then face tough clashes against Hawthorn and Geelong before they have their bye.

Richmond faces the very real risk of going into that break with a 2-5 record, but Hardwick backed his players to bounce back from their disappointing start to the season.

"I think it's the biggest hole we've been in," he said. "That finds out a little bit about yourself. I think the character of us as a football side will be on show for the next month.

"We've got a long way to go and it was a really disappointing effort tonight."

The result saw Collingwood square its season ledger at two wins and two losses and coach Nathan Buckley was delighted with the defensive intensity of his team.

"Overall it was another step forward," he said.

"They're a good football team, they haven't had a great start to the year, but they're capable of being very damaging offensively. To keep them to three goals for the first three quarters was the strongest aspect of our performance and the one that we'll hang our hat on."

But Buckley was also displeased with the officiating on the night, which he pointed to as a key factor in another goalless performance from Travis Cloke.

"There are a couple of sets of rules out there at the moment," he said.

"I think he's getting umpired to one set and everyone else to another, but he's got to fight through that. I think he stuck to his task.

"There were a few [free kicks that didn't get paid], but I'm sure if you asked Dimma there would be a few that he thought should have gone the other way. In the end the umpiring is the umpiring … it's a tough job.

"They make some blues, we make some blues, players make some blues … Clokey's just got to push through it."

This story Hardwick denies finals hopes in tatters first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.