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Lesser lights fire up for the Tigers: Hardwick

Callum Twomey, AFL Media  May 13, 2018 5:07 PM

Round 8: Hardwick post-match Damien Hardwick speaks to the media after the Round 8 win over North Melbourne.

RICHMOND'S tough win over North Melbourne illustrated the Tigers' lessening reliance on their big names to steer them to victories, according to coach Damien Hardwick.

The Tigers were made to earn their 10-point win against the Roos, losing the lead to a defiant North in the third term.

But they powered back with three important goals in the final quarter to secure victory, doing so with little influence from superstar midfielder Dustin Martin.

Martin was closely tagged by North stopper Ben Jacobs, and he finished with just 16 disposals, his lowest tally since round four last year.

Trent Cotchin had 35 disposals (22 contested) and stepped up, while Josh Caddy kicked four goals from 20 touches, but Hardwick praised his side's even showing.

"We don't need to rely on one player standing up. They'll just move aside and let the next player come in and fulfill his role better. We've spoken about that for a number of weeks and throughout the start of the year as well," he said.

"We're becoming less and less reliant on certain players to play their very best every week and that's the sign of a good side, it's the sign of a maturing side and that's what really pleases us and our coaching staff."

Martin hasn't quite reached the extremely lofty heights of his brilliant 2017 premiership season this year, having not gathered more 30 or more touches since round one against Carlton when he was best afield.

He spent more time across half-forward late in the game against the Kangaroos and helped set up goals late in the contest.

"Dusty was probably beaten today, there's no doubt. Jacobs has done some really good jobs on good players. He had some opportunities up forward, he just didn’t quite get the bounce of the ball today. He'll learn from it and get better," Hardwick said.

"He's such an important player for us and the great thing about it is when he's not working in the midfield I can throw him up forward, and that's a bonus for me as well.

"I'm really pleased he made way and Josh Caddy goes [to an] inside [midfield role], 'Cotch' stands up when needed and we still get the result against a really good side."

Hardwick said his team "didn't play overly well" against North Melbourne but credited the opposition for that, and was pleased with the way they overcame the challenge to post their sixth consecutive win.

"When we were called upon at three-quarter time to rise to the challenge I thought our boys did really well. North came pretty hard in that third quarter and got some scoreboard ascendancy and got their nose in front at one stage as well," he said.

"Credit where credit's due, we challenged our boys once again and they lifted and got the result our way."

The Tigers' win has set up a top-of-the-table clash with West Coast next Sunday at Optus Stadium, with the Eagles unbeaten since their round one loss to Sydney.

"It's a great venue and you only have to sit and watch it on TV to see the cauldron-like atmosphere. We're looking forward to getting in there and giving it our best shot," Hardwick said.

"West Coast was outstanding [against GWS] with a depleted line-up, they get one or two guys back this week and we look forward to the challenge."