Round 1 – Richmond v Carlton: Dov’e L’Amore?

 

Where is the love?

 

It has been exactly 173 days since the Tigers took the football world by storm, since they barnstormed to their date with destiny, since their golden September reached its intoxicating pinnacle.

 

As Jack Riewoldt unexpectedly took to stage with microphone in hand, the love was very much at the MCG. Like an erupting volcano, it spilled over, fuelling chaos in Swan St and again at Punt Road the next day. After 37 years of disappointment, the noisy, boisterous Crazy Tribe partied hard and could not be contained! Can it ever be again?

 

Tonight, a new campaign begins and the love is still strong.  As another working day ends, I join my fellow Tiger fans, full of belief, ready to take our places in what we hope will be an unruly and partisan crowd. Summer has ended, day and night are in near-perfect balance, the dry dustiness of the hot months is waning and early Autumnal scents fill my nostrils, an earthy sweetness is in the air. The night is balmy. There is a spring in our step as we bounce towards the MCG.

 

Richmond are the reigning Premiers, words that I love to hear and say! Can I say them again? We watch on respectfully as our Premiership flag is marched ceremoniously around the ground. As it is raised, we have our first excuse to rock out at the ‘G. The roar is deafening! Don’t worry if you do not understand this, it’s a Tiger thing.

 

The first round always has its own distinctive feel. Footy fans embrace the new season with fresh optimism, tempered by an uneasy trepidation that it may well go down the gurgler within minutes of the first bounce. And, of course, it does. Like all good movie scripts, tension is established early through adversity and hardship. A tale filled with overcoming difficult challenges is more interesting than one of an easy life. Carlton enters the field filled with intent and they strike multiple blows immediately. Within minutes, they have five goals on the board. Richmond’s Achilles heel is exposed for all to see and it has only taken one quarter. The Tigers love to keep their defenders together, allowing them to support each other, as one takes a risk to win a contested ball, he trusts his team-mates will close down the options behind him. Carlton separate Alex Rance and his buddies and force them into isolated one-on-one contests. A hard-fought first quarter lead is reward for their planning and diligence.

 

It takes the class of Jack Riewoldt and Dustin Martin to start the Premiership defence in earnest. The first break arrives with Richmond in a familiar position, a goal or so in the red. They held firm and struck late blows of their own. The Tiger defence, brimming with confidence after their Grand Final win, has regrouped. Jack’s first goal burst the game open like a piñata, and the Tigers’ swarm of small forwards began to exert their manic pressure on the ball-carrier, chasing down every potential exit. Jason Castagna led this extraordinary pack of midget forwards in Rioli’s absence.

 

Carlton’s dare and confidence is causing problems which will need to be addressed but the Tigers are back in business.

 

As play resumes, the game closes down. Goals are exchanged by both teams for the best part of the next hour. A pattern is established and repeated. The Tigers attack through relentless pressure but cannot score enough goals to control the game. Carlton defends strongly. Kreuzer’s ruck work is intelligent and dangerous, Murphy and Cripps are prolific around the ball and Simpson always seems to be on his own. Charlie Curnow and Matthew Wright are ever-present forwards, finishing off the strong rebound of their team-mates with telling goals. Martin and Caddy alternate between midfield and deep forward and both are difficult to contain. Jack Graham is given another important task and tries to quell Cripps’ impact in the middle, a task that proves difficult. He butters up manfully, just like he did in the Grand Final. Rance organises and controls from the back. Richmond kick more points than goals from their manifold opportunities and Carlton score more goals than points from their limited attacks. As the Premiership quarter ends, the Tigers have their noses in front, but only just. Belief and love have both taken a battering.

 

The game begins again and the tension is high. A few minutes in and scores are level. Richmond continue to attack their goals but Carlton hangs on and continue to fight, desperate to claim their first scalp of the season. As players from both teams tire, skills become ragged, the ball is fumbled, kicks miss their target and stoppages abound. The game is in danger of degenerating into a dour slog.

 

Dustin Martin, seemingly at odds with this development, takes matters into his own hands. A blistering run followed by a classy banana kick at goal opens a deep wound in the Blues. It is a withering display of speed, skill and bustle. Moments later, a hard-running Daniel Butler goal sets the crowd alight. Subdued nervousness is replaced by energetic chanting and the Crazy Tribe celebrates like it is September 2017 all over again.  More goals follow as “Coleman Medal” Townsend puts the game beyond the Blues reach.

 

Was last September an aberration or is it the beginning of a special period in history? This question has not been answered tonight but the four points are safely in the bank and an old enemy on the rise has been dispatched, sufficient for the present moment. The reigning Premiers have met their first challenge in their defence and prospered.

 

Dov’e L’amore?  It is at the MCG whenever the Tiger train rolls into town, that’s where it is!

 

 

RICHMOND    4.4       6.11     11.14   17.19 (121)

CARLTON        6.1       8.3       12.4     15.5 (95)

 

GOALS

Richmond: Townsend 4, Riewoldt 4, Butler 3, Caddy 3, Castagna 2, Martin

Carlton: C.Curnow 5, Wright 5, Garlett 2, Fisher, Casboult, Petrevski-Seton

 

BEST

Richmond: Martin, Rance, Cotchin, Caddy, Riewoldt, Butler

Carlton: Cripps, C.Curnow, Simpson, Murphy, Wright, Marchbank

 

INJURIES

Richmond: Nil

Carlton: Kennedy (left ankle), Kreuzer (groin)

 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Fisher, Rosebury, Hosking

Official crowd: 90,151 at the MCG

 

 

A Balmy night at the MCG in Round 1, 2018.

About Joe De Petro

My favourite period in history began with the Summer of Love and came to a sad end with the birth of Disco. It was from 1967 to 1975. What was not to like in those days? The Grateful Dead, Creedence, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and the mighty Tigers won Premierships every other year. It was a magical time!

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