It has been debated in the wider footy media on various occasions in past years that these two teams might no longer deserve the season opening blockbuster. But tonight's classic match saw scores level at the final siren and in front of a vibrant and vocal crowd of 88,084, between two teams that finished 7th and 9th last year, should guarantee them both at least a few more years in this opening slot.
The crowd was mostly in early for the first bounce of the 2023 season. The first ruck contest resulted in a free kick that saw Nankervis kick the ball long into the Richmond forward line and Dustin Martin put the first goal of the year on the board when his Carlton opponent spilled the mark. A great sign for Richmond supporters.
The reply was quick as Zac Fisher for Carlton returned the favor snapping on his left across the body from 25 meters out. Jack Silvagni got a good ride on his Richmond opponents to rise above them and mark, but it was the resulting goal that mattered most. A good sign for the Blues, too.
Jack Graham kicked the season's first behind when he sprayed his kick at goal wide and only a minute later he kicked another to the left side of the goal posts. It would be a night where both teams were inaccurate, both under pressure and not.
Despite some gallant Carlton defending from the likes of Hollands, Richmond found Lynch for the first time this year. Fortunately for the Blues his kick also missed the target for a minor score. It wouldn't be the last we'd see from him tonight.
Carlton's big target in McKay got onto the end of a quick kick towards the top of the goal square, despite the spoil McKay still recovered and picked the ball up off the deck and snapped the goal. Shai Bolton on the run hit Dustin Martin in the pocket at the top of the 50 meter arc, but he failed to bookend the quarter with another goal as his mongrel of a punt fell short of the goal line with the defenders preventing any score.
At quarter time it was a point lead to Carlton by nine points. 3.1 to 1.4*. It was a fast paced first quarter with lots of turnovers and after three quick goals to start the quarter only one out of the next six scoring shots were goals. Carlton really got reward for their forward half pressure and George Hewett and Patrick Cripps were giving them plenty around the ball. *(3 goals x 6 points and 1 behind for 1 point, total of 19 to 1 goal and 4 behinds for 10 points)
The Blues got the scoring underway in the second quarter when a long kick from De Koning fell just to the left side of the goal post to take the Blues lead to double figures. At the city end Maurice Rioli Jr. was paid the mark at the top of the 50 when his arms were chopped in the contest, he was then able to go back and make the distance and kick the Tiger's second goal of the match. Shai Bolton overtook Silvagni for the mark of the night award as he flew above the pack on the back flank.
Jack Martin was paid a mark 60 meters out, he indicated he was having a shot at goal but his kick came off hands in the pack 10 meters out from goal and Owies scooped up the crumbs and snapped the ball over the pack for Carlton's fourth goal of the night.
The warm Melbourne evening meant that the ground was becoming dewy and both teams turned the ball over a lot, and Carlton managed to hold the Tigers out despite plenty of pressure around the ball. After a 50 meter penalty for umpire abuse from Dion Prestia, Carlton were able to get the ball forward through Saad in the dying seconds of the first half but the tumbling ball only rolled through for a behind to take their half time lead to fourteen points.
The Tigers needed some sort of spark and it came from Jack Riewoldt at the start of the second half. He marked inside the top of the 50 meter arc and calmly went back to kick his first goal of the year and reduce the score deficit back to 8 points. And indeed it was a spark as they kicked back to back goals when Rioli took the turnover at half back and ran hard through the middle of the ground giving handball and getting it back, before hitting Shai Bolton out on the forward flank by himself, which meant he could mark and run into an open goal.
The next center clearance the ball came in long to Lynch who marked 20 meters out from goal in the pocket and unlike his shot earlier in the night, this one went through the big sticks, giving the Tigers the lead for the first time since the second minute of the game. Charlie Curnow floated into a pack in the forward pocket and somehow was the only one with hands on the ball, taking the mark and restoring the lead with a goal. He added another two minutes later when he fell off the back of another forward pack and he roved and dribbled the ball accurately by foot.
At the other end it was a quick scrubbed kick from Bolton to the top of the square where Maurice Rioli Jr. was waiting and with the smallest turning circle a human could perform, was able to position himself to quickly kick the goal to avoid oncoming defenders. Carlton were starting to get the ball inside their attacking 50 more often. Twice in a row McKay marked for the Blues but missed the set shots from well within range.
At the other end Lynch made no mistake on his shot at goal after he marked the ball after it bounced off his head and put the Tigers back in front by 2 points. It then looked like Lynch had kicked his third for the night soon after when he took the ball from his own ruck work and snapped a goal but the review showed the defender's hand did touch the ball after the ball left his boot. Lynch continued to be in action as he chased the ball back to the square with Young on his hammer and Young lunged at the perfect moment to stop Lynch from getting 6 points from his hurried kick reducing his score to just one point.
Richmond dominated the premiership quarter% outscoring the Blues by 19 points and getting the ball inside 50 meter arc 20 to 6. Taranto kicked a behind for his new team to end a good quarter for Richmond but Carlton were just 5 points down at three quarter time thanks to their good first half, and were still in with a chance to win this game if they could find that first half form again. %(3rd quarter)
The final quarter started as a real arm wrestle, neither team wanting to give up a goal and defending grimly inside their own 50 meter arc. Finally after seven minutes of play it was Docherty who marked at the top of the 50 and even though his opponent cribbed a couple of meters on the mark, it made no difference as he drained the shot for a goal from almost 60 meters out and giving his team a one point lead, avoiding those aforementioned inside 50 defenders altogether. Carlton added another point to stretch their lead just a little further.
A quick long snap shot for goal from Vlaustin missed narrowly to the left to still leave the Tigers a point short and the Tigers looking a little desperate. McGovern's long kick to the square came off hands and Charlie Curnow once again was the man at the back of the pack and swung a boot at the loose ball which went through the goals. A score review was required but the result was confirmed and the Blues went out to a 7 point lead with just over 8 minutes to play.
Richmond really made a push for the win at that point. For most of the remaining game time the ball was in their forward half. A brain fade kick by Weitering in defensive 50 went out of the full, that saw the Tigers quickly back inside 50 and after some contested `ball Miller got the kick into Shai Bolton straight in front. His kick though was also atrocious and his minor score left the Tigers still a goal behind.
While Richmond tried to poke a hole in the defense, Carlton despite some terrible mistakes looked like they might just keep them at bay. When they did eventually rebound O'Brien could have sealed the game if he could get the ball over the top to Mckay, who was one out as he streamed forward, but he took too long, and then McKay slipped over and the Tigers cleared the ball. On the rebound Hopper got it long to the square and Lynch marked 20 meters out. On a slight angle, he kicked the goal with 17 seconds remaining on the clock and scores were level.
And even in the final seconds Carlton had one more chance but Blake Acres dropped the mark 52 meters out from his goal with seconds to go. He could have won the match with any score after the siren had he marked it. The siren sounded. It was a draw. Eight goals, ten behinds each. No one overly happy, two match points in the standings for each, but 2 points missed each also, and on to Round 2.
RICHMOND: 1.4 2.4 7.8 8.10 (58) CARLTON: 3.1 4.6 6.9 8.10 (58) GOALS Richmond: Lynch 3, Rioli Jnr 2, Martin, Riewoldt, Bolton Carlton: C. Curnow 3, Fisher, Silvagni, McKay, Owies, Docherty BEST Richmond: Rioli Jnr, Taranto, Bolton, Lynch, Graham Carlton: Hewett, Young, McKay, Saad, Cripps INJURIES Richmond: Graham (shin/calf), Rioli Jnr (cut head) Carlton: Nil SUBSTITUTES Richmond: Jack Ross (replaced Marlion Pickett in the third quarter) Carlton: Lochie O'Brien (replaced Lachie Cowan at three-quarter time)
Article last changed on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - 1:56 PM EDT