Desperate times in Tigers' AFL flag quest

Shayne Hope
Dejected Richmond players leave the field after their shock 26-point AFL loss to St Kilda

Damien Hardwick concedes Richmond have reached "desperate stakes" in their AFL premiership defence with their winless run extending to three matches.

The Tigers kicked their biggest score since round one - having managed just five goals in each of their past two outings - but couldn't match St Kilda's intensity around the ball in a 15.3 (93) to 10.7 (67) defeat on Saturday at Marvel Stadium.

The result left the reigning premiers sitting outside the top eight with two losses and a draw since the season restart.

Richmond next take on West Coast on neutral turf at Metricon Stadium in a battle between two sides who had been widely rated among the top flag contenders this year.

Both are winless since the restart of the 17-round season, raising the importance of Thursday night's showdown.

"Absolutely it is (desperate stakes)," Hardwick said.

"The season's shortened, we understand that and every win is incredibly valuable, especially early in the season.

"We've got to start getting some Ws in our column."

Richmond were in a similar position when three-straight losses midway through last season left them with a 7-6 record, but they went on to win 12-consecutive matches and claim a second flag in three years.

"We've been in this situation before and we've dug ourselves out of it but we've got some work to do, there's no doubt," Hardwick said.

"We're certainly well off the pace and we're not playing a Richmond style of game at the moment.

"We'll get to work and we've got five days to turn it around."

Hardwick was disappointed with his side's poor discipline at crucial times against St Kilda and felt too many of his senior players had performed below their best in recent weeks.

"My job's to get them playing better and that falls solely on my head," Hardwick said.

"I wouldn't say there's a degree of flatness. Our players, I thought, played with enough energy.

"We didn't handle St Kilda's pressure around the ball that well. Handballs missed targets and it didn't allow us to get out."