Jack Riewoldt celebrates his sole goal for the match against Carlton
RICHMOND has held off a fast-finishing Carlton and defied recent history to win a thrilling clash at the MCG by 12 points on Thursday night.
The Tigers tightened up in the final quarter, having watched a 37-point lead whittle away to just one point, but they held on in the dying minutes to win 14.14 (98) to 12.14 (86).
Six months ago the Tiger Army was heartbroken after their team surrendered a 35-point lead in the third quarter to eventually lose their first final in 12 years by 20 points.
On Thursday night there was a sense of déjà vu, but they were saved by an inaccurate Carlton that looked like repeating its elimination final heist in front of 62,037 fans.
In the final quarter Carlton kicked 3.7 to the Tigers' 2.2, but Richmond held on with Tiger Army favourite Dustin Martin settling the result with nine seconds remaining.
The Tigers played irresistible football to build a six-goal lead late in the second quarter, winning the ball in space, pressuring their opponents and taking their chances.
It didn't last four quarters, but it was a win for the faithful – and the players – to savor.
"I think our players just stood up," he said.
"Good players stood up and you saw Jack [Riewoldt] take a coupe of big marks and Ty [Vickery] took a couple of crucial grabs.
"Chris Newman, Trent Cotchin … all these guys, Brett [Deledio] was a bit sore tonight so we had to perch him up forward.
"We were pretty happy with the way those guys stood up towards the end."
Captain Trent Cotchin (25 possessions and nine clearances) lifted when his team needed him, while midfielders Martin (21 and two goals) and Brandon Ellis (18 and two) played key roles.
After a disappointing opening to the season, key forward Ty Vickery stood up at crucial moments to take two contested marks and kick four goals.
Carlton lacked a tall target in the first half as Jarrad Waite struggled against David Astbury, but the Blues' spearhead lifted – accuracy aside – to drive his team's revival.
Star recruit Dale Thomas (23 possessions) came into the game after half-time and Chris Yarran was electrifying, finishing with eight inside 50s and three goals.
Small forward Jeff Garlett and Waite were the main culprits in front of goal for Carlton, each finishing with 1.3.
"They're the disappointing things – you work that hard to have a chance at it and we botched up a few shots on goal.
"It wasn't all doom and gloom … it was a very good fightback."
Despite their brave rally, pressure on the Blues will mount having started the season 0-2 for the second straight time.
Coach Mick Malthouse lost ruckman Matthew Kreuzer and defender Matthew Watson to injury pre-game, but the path forward is not clear for the aspiring finalists.
Young midfielder Dylan Buckley, who finished with 18 possessions and five tackles was a bright light for those Blues with an eye on the future.
RICHMOND 6.3 10.6 12.12 14.14 (98)
CARLTON 2.4 5.5 9.7 12.14 (86)
Richmond: Vickery 4, Ellis 2, Martin 2, S. Edwards, Cotchin, Deledio, Griffiths, Riewoldt, King
Carlton: Yarran 3, Everitt 2, Menzel 2, Bell, Simpson, Waite, Garlett, Gibbs
Richmond: Cotchin, Ellis, Martin, Vickery, Chaplin, Thomas, Astbury
Carlton: Yarran, Simpson, Murphy, Buckley, Curnow, Waite, Thomas
Carlton: Matthew Kreuzer (foot) replaced in selected side by Dylan Buckley, Matthew Watson (ankle) replaced in selected side by Sam Rowe
Richmond: Jake King replaced by Nathan Foley in the third quarter
Carlton: Brock McLean replaced by Kane Lucas in the third quarter
Reports: Dustin Martin (Richmond) reported in the second quarter for striking Simon White (Carlton)
Umpires: Stevic, Stewart, Leppard
Official crowd: 62,037 at the MCG