|Date:||Thursday 16th March 2023 (7.20 pm).|
|Goalkickers:||C. Curnow 3.0, H. McKay 1.2, M. Owies 1.1, J. Silvagni 1.0, Z. Fisher 1.0, S. Docherty 1.0, J. Martin 0.1, M. Kennedy 0.1, O. Hollands 0.1, T. De Koning 0.1, P. Cripps 0.1, Rushed 0.2.|
|Umpires:||Hayden Gavine (14), Alex Whetton (19), Simon Meredith (21), Andre Gianfagna (27).|
Blues draw with Richmond in surreal season openerCarlton and Richmond have drawn in the opening match of the 2023 AFL season. - By Sarah Black.
Football is life, and sometimes, life is a draw. Carlton – forever causing heart palpitations in its fans – looked set for a mature and composed six-point win over arch rival Richmond in the opening match of 2023, until Tom Lynch soared high to take a contested mark with 17 seconds remaining on the clock. A minute prior, Lynch had waved his arms at the umpire in vain, outmarked two-to-one as he begged for a free. But after surely spending all of summer with his last-minute elimination final miss replaying over and over in his head, he steadied, and converted. The final scores were 8.10 (58) apiece, and both sides would be left feeling like they lost the match after battling it out on a hot night at the MCG.Goals were traded within less than two minutes to open the game – Dustin Martin and Zac Fisher the snappers – and the two ends of the MCG took their turns to let out a six-month, pent-up, roar. Footy was back. Richmond's forward half defensive pressure was immense in the first quarter, but players failed to take full advantage of their opportunities, a somewhat rusty Jack Graham (after an injured toe affected his pre-season) spraying two wide and Tom Lynch missing a straightforward set shot. By contrast, Carlton relished in its limited chances in attack (13-21 inside 50s), kicking 3.1 to take a nine-point lead into the first break.
The Blues speed troubled Richmond on the wings, with Jesse Motlop, Adam Saad and Zac Fisher showing clean sets of heels and often catching the Tigers on the hop on turnover. After such a blistering start, the 30-16 scoreline at half-time reflected the fumbly and panicked nature of parts of the game, as both sides struggled to make strong and effective entries inside 50. The key defenders rose in prominence as the game progressed; Dylan Grimes holding up one end, while Lewis Young worked nicely into the game down the other. Daniel Rioli was simply superb off half-back, with the Blues having no answer to his pace and dare, while George Hewett played an underrated and crucial role in the midfield for Carlton.
Whether it was settled nerves, first-game concentration lapses or just shaking off the rust, the sluggish first half was blown out of the water after half-time, the Tigers springing to life with some clever ball use to kick three straight goals. In all, seven goals were kicked in that third term, after just six collectively in the first half, with Tom Lynch and Charlie Curnow asserting their dominance in their respective forward lines. Carlton debutant Ollie Hollands was lively and tenacious throughout, and looks set for a promising first season.
Old(ish) faces, new colours
Thursday night marked the first official Richmond match for star recruits Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper, who have changed the face of the Tigers' midfield. Both provided some much needed steadiness and defensive pressure at the contest – Taranto with 32 and Hopper with 18 – while the former had two flying (missed) shots at goal. Carlton also unveiled new winger Blake Acres, who had 16 disposals in a steady performance.
The crucial call
Charlie Curnow gave the Blues some much-needed breathing space with an instinctive, diving soccer close to goal. It took the margin to seven points with nine minutes remaining, but it wasn't without a moment of panic. Hearts were in mouths as the score review examined the goal, but it ultimately determining the soccer-trained Noah Balta had been unsuccessful in his attempt to deflect the kick.
Subs – who blinked first?
In the first match with tactical subs (following the change from purely medical subs), Jack Ross became the first player to take to the field in the dying minutes of the third term. He replaced Marlion Pickett, who had missed both practice hitouts due to an adductor injury. Carlton made its call just minutes later, bringing in Lochie O'Brien for debutant Lachlan Cowan at the three-quarter time break.
Best: G. Hewett, L. Young, H. McKay, A. Saad, P. Cripps.
Tigers, Blues share spoils in dramatic drawBy Rose Zarucky, Carlton Media
It ended as it started. For the first time since the 1972 semi final, Richmond and Carlton shared the spoils in a dramatic draw
It was a hot start from the Blues, answering the Tigers’ first goal instantly through the boot of Zac Fisher. George Hewett (11 disposals) was dynamic through the middle - particularly in the clearances - while Sam Docherty’s pressure and intercept was pivotal down back. A flying mark resulted in a goal for the 100th gamer in Silvagni, relishing his role as a third tall in attack. Though Richmond spent the majority of the term in its forward 50, the home side was unable to capitalise on the scoreboard with Carlton's defenders holding up well. The debutants were impressive early, with Ollie Hollands taking on two opponents head on while defending on the last line, while Lachie Cowan delivered a perfect tackle on Shai Bolton, earning himself a free kick in the process. A running snap from Harry McKay was reward for effort for the Blues, taking a nine-point lead into quarter time.
While there wasn’t much scoring this quarter, there was plenty of pressure. Lewis Young was outstanding in the defensive 50, racking up intercept possessions and quelling the influence of Jack Riewoldt. Jesse Motlop’s pressure was strong as he moved higher up the ground, with the ball pinging from end to end. The Blues' best moments in the term came in the air, with the likes of McKay and Jacob Weitering flying for the Sherrin. Adam Saad’s speed was on display, with his run out of the defensive half and his chase-down tackle key highlights, while a clever crumbing goal from Matt Owies broke the drought, leaving the Blues 14 points ahead heading into the main break.
Two quick goals to Richmond put Carlton on the back foot as its defence started to get picked through by a fast-moving Tiger outfit. A huge grab and two quick goals from Charlie Curnow put the Blues’ noses back in front, but as the physicality rose, so too did the Tigers' time in their forward half. Young battled away in the backline, saving a certain goal on the goal line, but the contributions of Tom Lynch and Riewoldt saw Carlton trail by five points as the last quarter loomed.
McKay’s strong contested marking continued, providing an imposing target down the line over the course of the night. When the Blues needed someone to step up, it was the MCG City End specialist who stepped up: at the same end of the ground as last year's opener, Sam Docherty launched from 60 metres to give the Blues the lead back. After a subdued middle portion of the game, it was captain Cripps who got the Blues going at the source, amassing 10 disposals in the final term. An incredible, intuitive goal from Charlie Curnow - his third of the night - put the Blues ahead by seven points, but a late Tom Lynch mark and goal left scores level, while his brother Ed nullified Prestia's impact in the final term. Just 30 seconds later, the siren sounded, ending in Carlton's first draw since 2014, its third draw against Richmond in history and the first since the 1972 semi final.
Three things we’ve learned
1. Of all the scenarios that Carlton, Richmond and football fans drew up, that wasn't one of them, with shared points in the season opener. While the Blues went about it a different way to last year, capitalising off turnover as opposed to clearance dominance, there were signs to impress Michael Voss and his coaching staff: however, it will undoubtedly go down as a missed opportunity for the Blues.
2. Carlton's backline held firm over the course of the night, restricting Richmond to the same amount of scoring shots despite 21 fewer forward entries. Lewis Young played a key role in that, finishing with 20 disposals and a game-high 14 intercepts in a brilliant first-up showing.
3. At the other end of the ground, there were signs that the dynamic partnership of Curnow and McKay would once again flourish in Navy Blue. McKay was arguably the best player on the ground at half time, dominating the airways on top of his first-quarter goal. While Curnow was well-held in the opening half, he shone when the game was there for the taking, kicking three of Carlton's four second-half majors.
Best: L. Young, G. Hewett, H. McKay, J. Weitering, S. Docherty.
Voss credits fight despite “lost opportunity”Michael Voss sums up the Round 1 draw against Richmond. - By Carlton Media.
The Blues didn't have dominance in their usual areas around the contest last night against the Tigers. Spending the majority of time in Richmond’s forward half, Carlton's defence was under constant pressure, but Michael Voss was proud of the way his players stood tall — despite ultimately labelling the result “a lost opportunity”. Here's what he had to say.
On the game as a whole:
"Both sides had chances to win that game. It looked somewhat a different profile to what we normally won games by and that’s been by clearance dominance and a lot of forward-half ball and we had to do that a different way."All those sorts of numbers were against us for most of the day but what went our day was our effort and our intensity across the whole game remained high. "From a situation of a draw, you probably walk out thinking ‘we should’ve won that’, but we would’ve had to win a completely different way to what we’re used to. "I reckon if that game happens last year, we lose by six goals. For that game to play out the way it did and still be in front and still be a chance to win and still disappointed to get the result – I think that shows real progress in our group."
On the final minutes of the game:
"It’s a lost opportunity but we should be walking out of that game and being proud of our efforts because they risked it and they put it all on the line and we walk out with the draw. "It makes the feeling a bit different, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t go to work. "We can’t skip over it. We’re about improvement, we’ll look at all of those moments and see where we can get better."
On Lewis Young:
"He’s been growing for the last 12 months and he’s caught us by surprise a little bit — his development has been really steep. "To be able to see him and what he’s been able to do and know when to be assertive and win his battles – he’s winning more battles and he’s playing against a pretty good opponent. "He was put under stress a fair bit because that ball was coming down fast a few times: we couldn’t get the ball locked in our forward half and that made it really troublesome for our defenders. They were copping it from everywhere at times but they stood strong. "The defence were under barrage down there and they stood tall so many times.”
On Ollie Hollands and Lachie Cowan:
"I was really impressed with them. When you throw two debutants and you’re aware as a coach what you’re throwing them into: you’re throwing them into 88,000 at the MCG Round 1, the hype surrounding it, but we really love their demeanour and we love how measured they both are. "We see how are they going and how they stack up against people that they’re competing against and we really like what we saw. There were some nice moments of composure and big contest moments that they just stood tall."
On the crowd and playing in big games:
"I pinch myself, I really do. I think about my career and not having been a part of this day and just being able to feel the buildup, the excitement, feel the enthusiasm and excitement of our members and supporters and how excited they are. "To come to these games, we don’t take it for granted and that’s why I thought the boys gave their total effort today against the grain."
On Ed Curnow and tagging Dion Prestia:
"Prestia is a great player, he’s important to them and we felt like we’d get a role on him so he didn’t get off the chain early in the fourth to get the game back on our terms. "I thought it really helped us, we were struggling around clearance in the third, I thought we were able to even it up in the fourth quarter. "Ed’s got a big say on what we do next. His experience and his energy and his competitive ability and the energy he brings to the team – people walk taller around him. "To see him out there, I’m pleased he’s been able to work through the challenges he had last year and he’s desperate for success for this Club."
|B:||33 Lewis Young||23 Jacob Weitering||42 Adam Saad|
|HB:||15 Sam Docherty||11 Mitch McGovern||26 Lachlan Cowan|
|C:||14 Oliver Hollands||9 Patrick Cripps (c)||13 Blake Acres|
|HF:||21 Jack Martin||10 Harry McKay||1 Jack Silvagni|
|F:||25 Zac Fisher||30 Charlie Curnow||44 Matthew Owies|
|Ruck:||12 Tom De Koning||7 Matthew Kennedy||29 George Hewett|
|Interchange:||24 Nic Newman||5 Adam Cerra||35 Ed Curnow|
|3 Jesse Motlop|
|Substitute:||4 Lochie O'Brien|
|Emergencies:||36 Josh Honey||20 Lachie Plowman||27 Marc Pittonet|
Substitute: Lochie O'Brien (replaced Lachie Cowan at three-quarter time).
Interesting Facts1. The Silvagni clan became the first for three generations of players (Serge, Stephen and Jack) to play 100 games at the same club.
2. This was Carlton's 35th drawn match in its 2575th match played which is an average of 1.35% of overall games played.
3. This was Carlton's third drawn match against Richmond, the last match was the Semi Final, 1972 (and the first was in the opening Round of 1960.)
4. The last time Carlton had a drawn match in the opening game of the season was Round 1, 1982 vs Fitzroy.
5. Could points 3 and 4 above be an omen as the Blues won the premiership in both of these years?
MilestonesDebut: Lachlan Cowan, Oliver Hollands
Debut (Carlton): Blake Acres
100 Games: Jack Silvagni
50 Goals: Zac Fisher
AFLCA Votes10 - Daniel Rioli (RICH)
6 - Lewis Young (CARL)
4 - Dion Prestia (RICH)
4 - Toby Nankervis (RICH)
3 - Tim Taranto (RICH)
3 - George Hewett (CARL)
Best and Fairest Votes
2023 | Round 2