Hardwick rates Tigers' AFL season a fail
Roger Vaughan
13:44 AEST Sat Aug 25 2012

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick is marking his team's AFL season hard, despite clear signs of improvement.

The Tigers should end the season with four wins from five games, having easily taken care of a dispirited Essendon side by 45 points on Friday night at the MCG.

If Richmond beat Port Adelaide next weekend, they will finish with an 11-11 record - their best result since finishing ninth in 2009.

But typical of Hardwick, he is not interested in near-misses.

"Every season's a fail when you don't make finals, that's the reality of it and what we and the media certainly gauge," he said.

"We're disappointed ... we certainly felt that we had the capability of playing at the level, we just dropped some games that we should have won.

"That's the reality of it and we've got no one else to blame but ourselves."

But it could be worse - just ask Hardwick's Essendon counterpart James Hird.

The Bombers are now on a six-game losing streak and will start at long odds in their last game of the season against Collingwood.

Still, overall this season Hird has seen signs of improvement.

"Parts of it have been (a step forward) - the last seven weeks certainly haven't been," he said.

"Some of the football we played in the first half of the year was very good and much better than we played last year."

While their seasons end next weekend, Richmond and Essendon will have plenty of interest in Brownlow Medal night.

Tigers star Trent Cotchin and Essendon captain Jobe Watson are favourites for the award, although a player whose team finishes outside the top eight has not won the Brownlow since Shane Crawford in 1999.

Cotchin had 31 disposals on Friday night and might have scored a vote or two, although he kicked 0.5.

His team-mate Daniel Jackson tagged Watson out of the game after quarter-time.

"It was probably the one thing he's got to get better at," Hardwick said of Cotchin's goalkicking.

"He can certainly kick a goal, he's just got to finish off."

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