There were a few nervous moments, but the Tigers celebrated the raising of their premiership flag with a solid last quarter effort to sink Carlton by 26 points in front of over 90,000 people at the MCG. Not a bad turn out for a school night.
In a game that was close for three quarters, it is the interpretation of the fifty metre penalty rule that will garner the most attention, which is a shame when you consider we saw Patrick Cripps, Charlie Curnow, Jacob Townsend and, of course, Dustin Martin in full flight.
1 – Charlie Curnow and Patrick Cripps.
Charlie sat and had a coffee with Dermott Brereton recently to pick his brain. It looks as though he picked the good parts. Curnow looked every bit the star, and threatened to take the game by the scruff of the neck. He finished with five goals, and could’ve had six. It was an ominous warning to the rest of the competition, even if he was the beneficiary of a couple of 50m penalties to aid his goal total.
Curnow’s been threatening a result like this for a while, but as of tonight, Charlie has arrived.
This is not a knock on Marc Murphy, whose first half was excellent, but Cripps is everything Murphy is not. He is hard, he stands up in tackles, and he never, ever flinches. He was one touch off his career-high, totalling 36 touches against the Tigers, and possibly securing himself three brownlow votes in the process.
Cripps’ work at and around stoppages, combined with his ability to beat his man in true one-on-one contests make him the ideal inside midfielder. The additional ability to outreach his direct opponent in marking contests are a nice bonus. As the Blues ran out of legs against the premiers, Blues fans will still be smiling.
Between Cripps and Curnow, the future looks very bright, and the present is nowhere near dull either.
2 – Dustin Martin
If there was any question as to whether Dusty was coming into this season with a hangover, they were quickly dismissed. At one stage of his career, Martin’s tank was the big question on his game. He has turned that around so emphatically, that whilst others slowed in this game, Martin went up a gear. His 32 touches were a team-high for the Tigers, and his last quarter goal at the 11 minute mark put the result beyond doubt.
It was not Martin’s best game, but even one of his 'just a little above average' kind of games is still better than 95% of the competition.
3 – The Richmond “no names”
You know what you’re gonna get from guys like Martin, Cotchin and Riewoldt. They’re the ones you plan for and plan around, but the Tigers that bob up and hurt you are often the ones who aren’t household names.
Jacob Townsend will not be a “no name” for much longer. His 4.2 led the Tigers, and he was ably supported by Dan Butler with 3.0.
Jayden Short was serviceable, Kamdyn McIntosh had a decent first up effort (though he did give away a couple of fifties and tends to hack it) and David Astbury once again got the most difficult job in defence (on Curnow). The Tigers’ lesser brigade were excellent again. Competition for spots in this team will be hot, with several stars looking to return soon. Great signs for the Tigers.
1 – Carlton’s top-heavy backline
When coming up against the Richmond forward pressure, I thought the trio of Jacob Weitering, Liam Jones and Caleb Marchbank looked a little too top heavy. A couple of times, a spilled ball inside fifty should’ve, and I am speculating would’ve, been cleared by a smaller, more agile player. Weitering in particular turned like a container ship to get to such spillage. Instead of a rebound out of defence, there was a stoppage, and a stoppage allows Richmond to apply the pressure.
This line up will fare better against a bigger forward line, but against Richmond, they looked slow at times.
2 – Matthew Kennedy injury
It could’ve been worse. When I saw Kennedy pull up lame as he went to take his kick in the second quarter, I thought he may have injured his Achilles tendon. Seemingly, it was just an ankle injury. It’s not the way you envision debuting for your new team.
Add to that the continued horrible luck for Matthew Kreuzer, who looked to have hurt his groin. He returned to the game, but his influence whilst Toby Nankervis was off the ground with a couple of head wounds, was pronounced. If anyone needs a good run at it, it’s Kreuzer. Here’s hoping it’s a minor thing and he’s back next week.
3 – Brandon Ellis ducking his head
There’s one moment in the third quarter that Brandon Ellis would like to have back. Standing at centre half forward, Ellis had front position as the pack bore down on him. He raised his hands, the ball arrived without the pack influencing the mark, and Ellis dropped it like a hot spub.
1 – 50 metre penalties
So this is the new interpretation, is it? It was like a bloody Oprah show. “You can have a fifty, and YOU can have a fifty!”
Seriously, why was there a need to crack down even further on this aspect of the game? It adds very little to the spectacle of the game, and is evidently as confusing as hell for the players.
It’s quite amazing that you can absolutely pole-axe someone in a marking contest and have fifty metres awarded against you, and the exact same penalty applies for a minor infraction such as being in the “protected zone”.
Fix it, AFL. It’s ugly.
2 – Umpires guessing
You could argue that Daisy Thomas made a clear handball against the boundary in the second quarter. He held the ball high to avoid a tackle and clearly punched the ball out of his hands. He handballed it; unorthodox as it was.
But not in the eye of the umpire, who said he threw it. Now, he didn’t see him throw it, because he didn’t, so you can only assume (and yes, I do see the irony here) that he was guessing as to what happened.
Call what you see, and see what you call. Don’t guess.
3 – Richmond inaccuracy
Dusty was the biggest culprit here, kicking 1.3, but as a team, the Tigers kicked more behinds than goals. With 17.19 for the game, and only a kick in it at three quarter time, the Tigers may have been made to pay for their inaccuracy on any other day.
They had 16 more scoring shots than the Blues for a 26 point advantage. Should’ve hit the scoreboard more and eased the pressure.
Bruce McAvaney called Alex Rance “The General” at one stage. Luke Hodge must’ve shifted uncomfortably in his chair at home.
Matthew Wright’s five goals is a career high. Knows how to be in the right place at the right time.
Another couple of dangerous tackles tonight. One on Josh Caddy by Petrevski-Seton is interesting. Caddy was trying to stand up in the tackle and get the ball to his boot. The ONLY option other than to allow him to kick it was to take him down. I really hope Petrevski-Seton doesn’t get cited for this garbage.
Loved Jack Riewoldt’s aggression after the Tigers’ first goal. They were down five goals to one at that stage, and Jack was stating that the Tigers were not laying down! Next thing you know, it’s six goals to five. The comeback started with Jack.
Commentators were giving Rance credit for his game on Casboult. The delivery to Casboult when he did find space was atrocious. Rance was good, overall, but Carlton did not aid Casboult in any way.
Caleb Marchbank played two good quarters – the first and third. Must like that end.
Richmond's counter-attack is still potent. If you turn it over against them, they'll pounce. It's as though they're just waiting for you to make that mistake. Carlton were lucky they missed as often as they did on the rebound.
Carlton’s ball movement from the backline, involving both Marc Murphy and Jarrod Garlett, and culminating in a mark and goal to Matty Wright was an absolute thing of beauty.
Whilst playing Martin deep forward is scary, his elite kicking to position makes him equally dangerous if he gets a one-on-one contest anywhere from 50-70 metres out. His positioning and body use make him a legitimate marking target, and he was instrumental in delivering the ball well to teammates early on.
Both Charlie Curnow and Josh Caddy were lucky to have the ball hit their foot on a couple of kicks! Absolute shanks… glad they just don’t happen to me.
McAvaney compared Dusty’s last quarter goal to Leigh Matthews. High praise.
Marc Murphy’s smother of Dustin Martin’s kick at half forward, followed by hard running, getting the ball back and delivering to Matthew Wright for a goal was an absolute highlight for the Carlton Skipper.