Round 1 – Carlton v Richmond: No fade, thank God

 

Season 2015 is here, but is in current danger of being upstaged by the scandals that have rocked the AFL over the off-season. The Essendon Circus/Drug Scandal is finally over (ASADA and WADA willing). However, the revelations of go-faster juice taken by Freo’s Ryan Crowley and two Magpie players, Josh Thomas and Lachlan Keefe will give AFL HQ even more headaches. If anything has been demonstrated by the Essendon experience, we’ll have to wait another 48 years for charges to be laid.

But hey, the real game is back! Let’s forget about all the other rubbish for awhile!

Talking about sagas, here’s another one that has arisen in previous years; Carlton v Richmond. Like Michael Bay’s cruddy Transformers movies, these last few clashes have consisted of incredibly similar scripts; an electric Richmond first half followed by the inevitable Carlton comeback.These games bring out the manic, fanatical and occasionally violent side out of both clubs.

So I’m there, of course, accompanied by my mate Shrub and his family.

The walk from Quay West to the G is what you’d imagine when listening to a Whitlams or Paul Kelly song. The fading twilight sun dances over the many shoulders of the pack of Blues and Tigers, plodding their way to Yarra Park from behind Federation Square. Among the crowd, I’m not walking in leaps and bounds, but more stutters and shivers of nervous anticipation. The eerie ringing of bells and the hearty blow of trumpets nearby doesn’t help, until I recognise the tune.

Oh we’re from Tigerland….

I’m now shivering and bounding.

The interior of the MCG is pumping with both people and dance music, the latter due to the Carlton mascot being whisked about on the field by a flame-emitting hovercraft…….what’s all that about? We have wonderful seats on the second level, directly on the 50 metre line. Shrub and I reckon it’s ironic that the AFL start their self-proclaimed “Year of the Fan” on a Thursday night, and wonder if the Carlton mascot would beat Richmond’s in a fight.

If Carlton are to win anything, they’ll win the entrance. They have the home game, and enter the field with fireworks, blue flames and rockstar flashing lights. They receive reasonable applause from the crowd, which is about 50/50 at the moment.

They also win the toss, and Marc Murphy points smartly to the city end. Clem Smith (Carlton) and Kamdyn McIntosh (Richmond) are playing top level for the first time.

No wind to speak of, and the sky is clear. The stadium echoes with a nervous, desperate roar as the ball is bounced.

Brett Deledio celebrates the season start by being reported six seconds into the year with a high bump on Simon White, and an inevitable scuffle to follow. It takes just a single minute for ex-Dog Liam Jones to rove off a pack for Carlton and dob the first goal. It takes another one for debutant McIntosh to awkwardly tackle Dale Thomas, and five more after that for Thomas to be subbed off with a suspected dislocated shoulder. Frenetic.

 

Carlton dominate clearances and the contested ball, while the Tigers are looking shell-shocked, and can’t get their run going and instead handball their way into trouble. Riewoldt, in particular, is turning the ball over and looking lost at half-forward.

 

Shrub has a Carlton grin, and is enjoying the Blues’ hot start.

 

Griffiths is looking good in the goal square, and adds two by quarters end. Carlton have 11 shots at goal, but have only converted four of them, not helped by Wood and Henderson missing straight-forward chances. Carlton have double Richmond’s inside 50’s due to the Tigers looking too often to  handpass rather than a clearing kick. Shrub’s happy, but reckons Richmond will reel his boys in.

Carlton make their lead 23 as Jaksch nails a goal from a tight angle. Debutant McIntosh and Rance are our current best players, as Richmond slowly peg Carlton back, blocking their midfield run and controlling the ball out of defence. Martin’s goal from a spillage is nullified by Menzel’s straight kick from a free.  Peripheral vision Chappy?

From there, the game turns. Kamdyn McIntosh has a name as surprising as his performance on debut, and makes up for a squandered set shot with a brilliant rove off a thumping spoil with his first goal. His work on the near wing has been influential, and he’s even decked Juddy a few times. He inspires Richmond to turn around the half, and lead by seven points at the break. Shrub loves KamMac as much as I do, but I haven’t told him who popped Daisy’s shoulder yet.

 

Riewoldt’s had a bit of it but hasn’t made much of an impact…yet. McIntosh and Hunt, the two new Tigers, are on fire. Kade Simpson’s inside work has been good and Jamison has done well to allow Riewoldt just the one roved goal.

But as good as we looked in the last half of the second quarter, I’ve seen Richmond cough up leads to often to hope.

Just two goals are scored in the third, by Richmond, but it’s a quarter where the Blues turn the ball over a considerable amount and a quarter where the Tigers well and truly take ascendancy in the match. While Martin, Deledio and Cotchin have all been quiet, it’s been Ellis, Vlastuin, Lloyd, Rance and, most influential of all, Hunt and McIntosh, who have dominated. Morris’s forward pressure has been outstanding. Richmond receive a little help from the umpires, but Carlton are their own worst enemies as they turn the ball over. Shrub is livid at the umps while I grin at my shoes. The Blues aren’t out of it, 19 points down at the end of the third, but they look out of it from my seat.

A five bounce run and lace-out pass to Riewoldt by – who else – McIntosh has a defining feature hidden in its brilliance: there will be no fade out tonight. Hunt is dominating in the inside game while Ellis and Houli dominate the midfield run. The Tigers are answering all Carlton goals and are extremely careful, kicking straight and milking the clock. Lloyd and Griffiths add to their tallies, and Riewoldt, after a horror first half, picks up a game high 4.

Shrub is content with a 27 point loss, as he wasn’t expecting to walk away with a win, and sits through the song without complaint.

I’m happy with the win, but we’ll need a better effort against top teams to play deep in September. And maybe, just maybe, we won’t have to put up with ridiculous matches against Carlton again.

 

Carlton: 4.7 6.9 6.12 11.12 (78)

Richmond 2.3 7.10 9.13 15.15 (105)

 

Goals

Carlton: Menzel, Jones, Rowe 2, Bell, Gibbs, Simpson, Tuohy, Jaksch.

Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Lloyd, Griffiths 3, Grigg 2, McIntosh, Martin, Gordon.

 

Best

Carlton: Simpson, Docherty, Menzel, White, Bell, Gibbs

Richmond: McIntosh, Hunt, Rance, Riewoldt, Ellis, Lloyd, Vlastuin

 

Votes: McIntosh (R) 3, Hunt (R) 2, Riewoldt (R) 1.

Brownlow:

 

 

About Paddy Grindlay

Paddy is new to the city and thinks it's all a bit much at the moment. He's studying at RMIT University and can be found 'round the traps.

Comments

  1. The Wrap says

    He’s really something, isn’t he Paddy. that Kamdyn McIntosh? I have a feeling we’re going to make am impression this season. Thursday’s start wasn’t startling, but as you say, at least we didn’t fade.

    And I presume it hasn’t slipped your notice, from your best seven in Yellow&Black, on two of them would be what you call senior players – Jack & Alex Rance. Things aren’t looking too dusty at all down at Tigerland, eh?

Leave a Comment

*