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Tiger backs to the fore

QF: Hardwick and Riewoldt post-match Damien Hardwick and Jack Riewoldt speak to the media following Richmond's qualifying final win over Hawthorn.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick praised the strong, combined efforts of the team’s defenders in the qualifying final victory over Hawthorn at the MCG last Thursday night.

The Hawks’ final score of 9.10 (64) meant it was the 11th time this season that the Tigers had restricted their opposition to 10 goals or less in a match.

“I got asked a question during the week about Alex (Rance) and they were sort of talking down his form. But he’s a star,” Hardwick said.

“What has been really pleasing for our footy club is those other players have stepped up . . . Dylan Grimes, Nick Vlastuin, Dave Astbury was back to his best tonight.

“They’re all really valuable role players for us and step up when needed.

“A couple of those big contests we had tonight were really important, and those players, once again, fulfilled their roles really well.”