AFL Round 1 – Richmond v Carlton: Tiger fans need patience of a Saint

By Steve Healy

You could argue that footy never went anywhere, with all the media fuss over the off-season. There were old replays on the new Channel 7 Two; there was many a conversation between me and friends about our great game. I watched many a tape, had many a kick to kick and followed every club’s happenings throughout the summer. There were the NAB Cup and challenge matches, which I enjoyed thoroughly, but there’s a certain point in time where you get sick of the nine-point rule and the short quarters. But tonight is always the night where it all matters, even if it is a school night. Richmond V Carlton, the opener to another spectacular season of AFL football.

Both teams ran out on to the ground with some new faces. Robbie Warnock, Lachie Henderson and the one I was most eager to see, Brock McLean, for the Blues, and Mitch Farmer (who played three games for Port Adelaide in 2008), along with three debutants in Dustin Martin, shaggy haired Ben Nason and speedy Relton Roberts for the Tigers. Of course, without Judd, and a questionable forward line, the Tigers were a chance to frighten the Blues on this glorious night at the MCG.

But everything didn’t go as planned for the Tigers when the game started; Mitch Robinson received a free kick, who chipped it to McLean, who combined with Bower and  Scotland, who hit Waite (who played for the first time since Round 9 last year) on the lead. The 27-year old kicked it straight through the middle for the Blues, causing premature doubt in the long and suffering Richmond camp. Henderson got one too, from a good mark, which gave me the illusion that he was the new Fevola. Murphy, O’hAilpin and McLean all kicked goals and margin was out to 28 points, and Acting Captain Carrazzo had leather poisoning. But the Tigers hit back, with four out of the next five goals, the best being from a clearance, a dashing goal by Deledio on the run. It was the Blues by 17 at the first break, 4.2 26 to 7.1 43, and Carrazzo already had 13 touches.

The Blues continued to deny the Tigers the ball after the second quarter got underway. Murphy dribbled one through from a fumble in Richmond’s defence, before Betts cleaned up his own mistake and soccered the ball through the sticks. But it is the next play where Carlton linked up superbly, they run the ground like never before, before Yarran bounced it to the 50 and rammed through a goal. You would’ve thought that only Judd could manufacture a play like that. Gibbs kicked another for the Blues, but at 39 points the Tigers fought back with gusto, with goals from ex-Port player Adam Thomson, who was all right tonight, Morton and Riewoldt who both kicked their second. A murmur seemed to be filling the MCG when the Tigers went in to the half 19 points down and with the momentum, and with more scoring shots than their opposition, 7.6 48 to 11.1 67.

The third quarter began and Waite kicked his second, before an avalanche of behinds follow. Betts kicked his third in style and the margin was stretched to over five goals. It was Ben Nason who replied on the run, who looks like an important player in Richmond’s future. A goal each from the respective sides rounded out the quarter, which saw the Tigers still trailing by 29 points, 9.8 62 to 14.7 91. The Tigers clearly didn’t have the power to win the game from there on, especially with their ruck department, with Vickery and Simmonds both having shocking games for night. What I just mentioned brings up the question: Why was Angus Graham was left out?

The Tigers simply were over-powered in the last quarter. Gibbs kicked a goal to bring the margin out to 34, and Simpson replied with a mark from a Joseph kick from 50. It turned into a training drill for the Blues, and the Richmond supporters were fed up and hitting the road to beat the Punt Rd traffic. Yarran and O’hAilpin kicked their third goals each for the Blues, who both suggested that the Blues don’t need one main forward any more. O’hAilpin lined up for his fourth after the siren, and missed, narrowly. The Blues were the victors by 56 points, 9.10 64 to 18.12 120.

What did I learn from this match? Well, it’s pretty obvious that Richmond are in no better position than this time last year, and are favourites for the wooden spoon. But, you can see that Hardwick is taking steps backwards to go forwards, which funnily is the game plan the Blues more used in this game. Speaking of the Blues, they look set for another good year, possibly top eight again. Their new mindset of sharing the ball around paid dividends throughout the course of the match, taking 136 marks to Richmond’s 66, 432 to 295 in possessions, 78 to 59 in tackles, and 44 to 26 in hit outs. Carrazzo was the star with 40 disposals for Carlton. As for the Tigers, Dustin Martin didn’t set the word alight in his debut, but got an honest 18 possessions.  Richmond’s senior players, Newman, Simmonds, Jackson, Deledio and Cousins, all didn’t show enough leadership and used the ball poorly.

Even though the Tigers were much worse in the equivalent game last year, the final result wasn’t all that dissimilar, but now, with Damien Hardwick at the throne and Terry Wallace gone, times are promising for the Tigers, but not as promising as Brendon Gale’s ridiculous visions of the club in ten year’s time. Be patient Richmond fans.

Richmond 4.2 7.6 9.8 9.10 (64)

Carlton 7.1 11.1 14.7 18.12 (120)


Richmond: Riewoldt 2, Morton 2, Hislop, Deledio, Cousins, Jackson, Thomson.

Carlton: O’hAilpin 3, Yarran 3, Betts 3, Waite 2, Murphy 2, Gibbs 2, McLean, Simpson, Henderson.


Richmond: Connors, Deledio, McGuane, Riewoldt.

Carlton: Carrazzo, Betts, McLean, Thornton, Bower, Gibbs, Murphy, Waite, Yarran, Russell, Scotland, Simpson.

My Votes: 3. Andrew Carrazzo (CARL), 2. Eddie Betts (CARL), 1. Brock McLean (CARL).

Umpires: Rosebury, H Ryan, S Ryan.              Crowd: 72,010 at the MCG.

About Steve Healy

Steve Healy is an entity of a Melbourne supporter.

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