RICHMOND interceptor Nick Vlastuin could miss next week's must-win clash against Hawthorn with rib damage.

The tough defender was the victim of a Charlie Dixon knee to the side in a marking contest, and was subbed out of the Tigers' 38-point win, but did not need to go to hospital and watched the remainder of the game from the bench.

"He's probably doubtful, we suspect he has some form of rib damage," coach Damien Hardwick said.

"But once we know, you'll know. I'd say he's incredibly doubtful for next week."

04:58 Mins
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Round 21: Hardwick post-match

Damien Hardwick speaks to the media after the win against Port Adelaide

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The Tigers are in the top eight for now, two points ahead of St Kilda and six up on the Western Bulldogs, but will need to win games against the Hawks and Essendon to assure themselves of a return to September action.

"Sometimes you choose the mountain, and sometimes the mountain chooses you. We've got to go about it a different way. It's exciting for us, the challenge is firmly set, we've got a great understanding of what that is," Hardwick said.

"Every game is an elimination final, we understand that, but I'm really pleased with the way the guys are playing. We can't think too far ahead, all we have to do is just worry about one foot in front of another.

"The great thing about us is we're sort of regenerating at the same time, effectively tonight we had four first-year players (at AFL level) in, in 'MJ', 'Cumbo' (Maurice Rioli jnr and Noah Cumberland), (Josh) Gibcus and (Tyler) Sonsie, and we're really pleased in the performance of all those players."

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Round 21: Match highlights

Highlights of the Round 21 win against Port Adelaide

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Shai Bolton kicked four goals in the win from 17 disposals, also spending considerable time in the midfield.

"He's had a few of those games, where he's kicked or had a lot of shots. What really pleases me, is the last 30 seconds of the game, the game is dead and buried. We're 38 points up, and he has a 100-metre chase," Hardwick said.

"That's the measure of us as a footy club, so for him to do that, when he could have quite easily said, 'you know what, the game's over', that's what makes good sides great.

"That act in itself – he had a great game, don't get me wrong – but that to me makes us really proud as a footy club to see that sort of action."

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Round 21: Great display from Shai

Shai Bolton kicks four goals in the match against Port Adelaide

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