A sensational performance from Dustin Martin has spurred Richmond to a season-opening win over a gallant young Carlton side.
The reigning premiers were well and truly pushed during the first three quarters before kicking away late in the final term to run out 15. 15. (105) to 11. 14. (80) winners.
With his side clinging to an eight-point lead at the final change, Martin kicked into gear in the fourth quarter, collecting 12 of his 31 disposals as well as having six score involvements in the quarter.
“He just has the ability to do what we haven’t seen anyone consistently do before, that’s a midfielder with the ability to make a key defender look silly,” St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt said on Fox Footy’s coverage.
While the Blues put in a courageous effort, it was a case of same old as Richmond kicked away, condemning David Teague’s side to its ninth straight Round One loss to the Tigers.
Sam Walsh put in a best-on-ground performance for Carlton, finishing with 31 disposals, but the drop off from some of his fellow young teammates was notable in the second half.
“They’re just off it and as brave as they were, Sam Walsh was absolutely magnificent, there are just players in that team that you look at and go, ‘I don’t think they’re going to take Carlton to where they need to go’,” ex-Demons skipper Garry Lyon told Fox Footy.
“The effort from Carlton was great. Let’s face it, they’re playing perhaps the greatest team of the modern era so let’s judge them on that.”
“At this stage, that development might still come, but a couple of the young players they invested heavily in during the draft, you still look at in moments and think, ‘I’m not sure’,” Riewoldt added.
“I see patches where it could go either way, but that is the big question mark at the moment. They don’t bat deep enough.
“There are those moments that you look at, and you always magnify those big moments in the last quarter because that’s where the game was won and lost tonight.
“Unfortunately for the Blues, they were let down on some of those occasions by the younger guys.
“It’s a similar script isn’t it? Carlton were really competitive in patches and even though it was close throughout that last quarter, you felt at its core that Richmond had this game in control.
“They dominated field position and when they needed to flex their muscles, they found that gear.”
A few of the AFL’s newest rules were on show in the second half, including the medical substitutions as well as the impact of the reduced interchange figure of 75 rotations.
Carlton brought Oscar McDonald on in place of Jack Silvagni, who was subbed off at half-time with a shoulder injury, and the big man nailed two goals on his Blues debut.
Astbury elbow leads to goal
Richmond exercised their medical sub, Jack Ross, late in the third quarter when he was brought on for Nick Vlastuin, who was taken off with a right knee problem.
The Tigers will also be sweating on the AFL’s Match Review Officer’s verdict on a third-quarter incident involving defender David Astbury, who was reported for striking Lachie Plowman in the third quarter.
Carlton will be back in action next Thursday night against Collingwood, while Richmond will also be back at the MCG to face Hawthorn on Sunday.