A heroic effort from skipper Nat Fyfe was not enough for Fremantle as they succumbed to a 77-point thrashing from Richmond at the MCG, capping off a miserable week dominated by harassment allegations against coach Ross Lyon.
Held to just one goal during a dismal first half on Sunday, the Dockers dominated the third quarter but were steamrolled late on the way to a 15.20 (110) to 4.9 (33) defeat.
Fyfe had 33 disposals, 12 clearances and even contributed in the ruck with seven hitouts but besides Lachie Neale (35 touches), had little support as Fremantle posted their lowest MCG score.
The victory extended Richmond's winning streak at the MCG to 13 games and secured the reigning premiers' spot atop the AFL ladder.
Richmond lost skipper Trent Cotchin before the game to a lingering knee injury, while fellow onballer Dion Prestia succumbed to a calf issue during the third quarter.
The Dockers trailed by 44 points at halftime but surged to life after the break, cutting the margin to 25 points and becoming the first team since Greater Western Sydney in round 18 last year to hold the Tigers goalless in a quarter.
But the AFL's best fourth-quarter team stayed true to form, closing out the game with eight unanswered goals to improve their record to six wins and one loss.
"The third quarter, I thought we were under siege for a large majority of time ... we've played three games in (13) days and our guys were tired," Hardwick said.
"When they get questioned, they respond and then some, so I was really proud of the way they performed."
Fremantle's fourth defeat for the season capped off a week dominated by a sexual harassment scandal involving their coach.
Lyon allegedly made an inappropriate comment to a junior staff member several years ago at the club's Christmas function.
It's been reported the alleged victim had been paid a five-figure amount, as part of a settlement, and that a non-disclosure agreement had been signed.
Lyon on Sunday maintained his silence on the matter.
"We all sit under the umbrella of the respect and responsibility policy and no one's in a position to comment any further," he said.
"...I respect the system, and that's all I can say."
Regardless of whether the off-field issues affected the Dockers, their first half was woeful.
The Dockers laid just four tackles during the first quarter - an equal-low for any team in a quarter this season and the lowest ever under a Lyon-coached side.
In contrast, the Tigers had 23 tackles for the quarter shared among 14 players.
Kane Lambert (25 disposals, two goals) and defender Dylan Grimes were among Richmond's best, while Dustin Martin was prolific but booted 0.4.