Richmond know they are going nowhere in the AFL finals if they take Saturday’s anti-climactic form into September.
Coach Damien Hardwick confessed he did not know whether to view the glass as half-full or half-empty after the 23-point win over Brisbane at the MCG.
The 14.13 (97) to 11.8 (74) result was Richmond’s 13th win, meaning they are all-but guaranteed of their first finals berth since 2001.
It will be only their third finals series since losing the 1982 grand final.
But they also squandered a 46-point lead early in the third term and were in big trouble when the Lions trailled by just 16 points at 20 minutes in the final term.
Hardwick bemoaned their inability to make the most of an outstanding second term, when they dominated the match and only kicked 5.5.
The Lions rallied and remarkably kept Richmond goal-less in the third term, ensuring some anxiety for the Tigers.
“Unfortunately in this game, the way it is at the moment, you only get a certain number of shots,” Hardwick said.
“If you don’t take yours, they certainly go back the other end.
“They kicked some great goals … (they) kicked a couple of belters from the boundary line that certainly put a knife through my heart at various stages.”
Hardwick continues to not buy into the Richmond finals hype, saying they are at the start of a four-game block that will determine where they finish.
He was also philosophical about Saturday’s uneven performance.
“”The good thing about it is we’re winning games,’ he said.
“As funny as it is, I’m not overly happy and we’ve won by (23) points.
“Ask me how that was two years ago – (I would) walk in with a big smile.”
Lions coach Michael Voss was pleased his side did not give in, but referred to Richmond’s domination of most key statistics.
“They won it, they owned it, and we didn’t,” Voss said.
“We finished it out well, but again we’re not making the most of our starts, which is forcing us a long way back.
“We’ve got to be better than that for us to improve as a footy team.”
Tom Rockliff and Pearce Hanley were prominent as the Lions forced themselves back into the game.
Lions midfielder Brent Moloney was subbed out of the game at halftime with a hamstring injury, while Richmond veteran Chris Newman was nursing a sore ankle post-match.