With Melbourne still under daylight savings the season opened during twilight at 7:25 PM at the MCG. A minute’s silence for the Christchurch massacre silenced the crowd before the 85,016 fans in the house roared at the first bounce. The Tigers would pour on the pressure through the likes of Graham, Cotchin and Martin from the start and the Blues would show little apparent improvement from their wooden spoon effort of 2018 in the first quarter.
After the initial skirmish it was good old Dustin Martin driving long towards Riewoldt at the hotspot inside "50", but it was the brand-new recruit in Tom Lynch that marked strongly and kicked the first goal of the AFL season. Jack Higgins looked good early for the Tigers and marked uncontested 30 meters (33 yds) out from goal and made no mistake with his shot at goal. Teammate Noah Balta kicked his first AFL goal when he was taken out by Dale Thomas and given a 50m (55 yd) penalty that took him well within scoring range. Not to be outdone Richmond’s resting ruckman Nankervis roved the fall of the center clearance and waltzed in to kick another goal.
After 22 minutes into the season, Carlton opened their scoring with a behind through new recruit Mitch McGovern. But throughout the quarter their inside 50’s lacked any clear direction and they were unable to threaten. All this minor score really did was open up the ground for Richmond to take it straight to their scoring end and Tom Lynch, lurking at the back inside 50 meters, strolled in and kicked his second for the match.
The Blues were fortunate late in the quarter that the Tigers didn’t use the ball as well as they did early in the quarter. Regardless, their 33-point lead pointed to a massive blowout to come. Kamdyn McIntosh opened the second quarter festivities roving the kick meant for Riewoldt and scoring from point blank range, but from here the Blues would turn the game.
Carlton captain Cripps had been the best all night for the Blues so far, but Richmond captain Cotchin’s hanger over him as Carlton tried to clear the 50 meter line was symbolic of the fortunes of the two teams. His kick missed and now it was time for the Blues to shine. Seven and a half minutes into the second quarter Carlton kicked their first goal. It also happened to be the first goal for Carlton by Alex Fasolo who moved to the club from Collingwood in the off-season. Another former Collingwood star Dale Thomas kicked the next one for the Blues as they put together five minutes of solid footy where they pushed the Tiger’s defense. Jeremy McGovern kicked the third in a row when he was held by Rance in the contest after the Blues moved the ball quickly from the clearance.
Jack Higgins restored service briefly for the Tigers with his second goal taking the advantage from a free kick and made a goal playing on and snapping from the boundary. It wasn’t pretty footy but the Blues were working hard, and it was Zac Fisher that scrambled a wobbly punt through the big sticks for their fourth goal in the quarter and to reduce the margin at half time to a more respectable 22 points. Brendon Bolton would have been pleased with that second quarter and that continued work rate would see the Blues push the Tigers even further in the third.
The Tigers again took the advantage early in the third stanza and it was Nankervis kicking his second from close range as the crumber (tapped on from Reiwoldt). The Olympic stand pocket would be kind to the Blues in this quarter Big Harry McKay showed why Carlton fans are so excited about what he can do when he bumped Rance out of the way, took the mark and then threaded the ball through the goals from deep in that pocket. The next clearance again had the Blues looking for McKay but it was Charlie Curnow who mopped up the ball over the back and kicked the goal and reducing the margin to just 15 points.
Richmond steadied when Riewoldt kicked his first goal for the season. Riewoldt’s big leap onto the back of Liam Jones was confident and spectacular. Jack Higgins then added his third for the night after marking calmly in the pocket but then almost played on before going back and taking the shot. Marc Murphy in that Olympic stand pocket snapped around his body from 20 meters out to keep the Blues in the match. Carlton were piling on the attacking pressure and using the space well, it was Nic Newman who hit a great kick from deep in the same pocket on his left and reduced the margin by another six points for the Blues.
Carlton’s hard work was paying dividends and Plowman upended a usually elusive, rampaging Dustin Martin on the wing. Richmond’s bad luck was Carlton’s good when Rance landed awkwardly and injured his knee behind the marking contest and would take no further part in the match. The Blues managed to hold the game up and not allow the Tigers to get any open ball and pull away again. The three-quarter time score 69-56 left the door open for the Blues to pull off a remarkable comeback.
Carlton desperately needed the first goal in the last quarter but despite getting the clearance they could not hit an open forward. Consequently, it was Tom Lynch who kept the Tigers out of reach with his third goal (from three kicks) under pressure but able to get a good kick away. Carlton tried desperately to hold on but eventually the Tigers broke the Blues open with some running and classy play that ended up with Butler smashing the goal. Moments later they won the clearance again and it was Maverick Weller soccering the ball off the ground to put the game well and truly out of Carlton’s reach. Weller’s goal the sixth by a debutante tonight. The pain continued as Nankervis kicked his third goal for the night.
Richmond kicked the first four goals of the quarter. Carlton finally pulled back one consolation goal when Harry McKay got over the back to mark and convert the set shot with a goal. And just like that the Tigers had undone all of Carlton’s hard work since quarter time and the final winning margin was 33 points.
McGovern and McKay showed good signs for the Blues and Cripps continued his impressive form from 2018. The Blues gave a good half of footy that would have pleased coach Brendon Bolton who would be in no doubt that this is still a long way short of the four quarters required to win a match. The Tigers added to their potency with Lynch and Weller adding to an already stellar cast, but the potential loss of Rance through his knee injury for the rest of 2019 took some gloss off this Round 1 win.
CARLTON 0.1 4.4 8.8 9.10 (64) RICHMOND 5.4 7.8 10.9 14.13 (97)
Carlton: McKay 2, Fasolo, C.Curnow, McGovern, Murphy, Fisher, Thomas, Newman
Richmond: Higgins 3, Lynch 3, Nankervis 3, Balta, Riewoldt, McIntosh, Butler, Weller
Carlton: Cripps, Newman, Fisher, Murphy, Thomas, Setterfield, McKay
Richmond: Cotchin, Higgins, Houli, Nankervis, Lambert, Graham, Martin
Richmond: Rance (knee)
Umpires: Meredith, Findlay, Fleer
Official crowd: 85,016 at the MCG
Article last changed on Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 9:01 PM EDT