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Rampaging Tigers down Blues in action-packed season opener

Highlights: Carlton v Richmond The Blues and Tigers clash in round one

RICHMOND has overcome a poor start to outclass Carlton by 27 points in a scrappy contest in Thursday's season-opening clash at the MCG.

The Tigers trailed the Blues by 23 points at the five-minute mark of the second term and could have been further behind if Carlton – then on 6.7 – had kicked more accurately.

But Richmond kicked the next seven goals to turn the game on its head, holding Carlton goalless from the five-minute mark of the second quarter until the five-minute mark of the final quarter.

The 2015 season got off to an explosive start with Tigers star Brett Deledio reported and Blues forward Dale Thomas suffering a game-ending injury in the opening minute.

Thomas dislocated his shoulder when thrown to the ground in a strong tackle by Richmond debutant Kamdyn McIntosh.

The former Magpie had looked set for a big season after overcoming longstanding ankle problems this pre-season, but left the ground immediately after his injury and was substituted from the game soon after.

 

Richmond will be sweating on how the Match Review Panel views Deledio's bump on Simon White in the opening seconds of the match, with the star Tiger appearing to catch the Blue high as White had his head over the ball.

 

The Tigers' win was built on daring counter-attack.

Although well beaten in the clearance count (38-27), Richmond constantly hurt the Blues on the rebound from half-back.

The Tigers were often prepared to chip the ball around until an option appeared, but were decisive when a switch was on and the longer the game went the more they opened the Blues up with their run through the centre corridor.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said his team had tried to move the ball "a little bit too aggressively" at the start of the game but praised its fightback.

"Carlton to their credit came out and hit us pretty hard early, but the great thing for our footy club is that they took that," Hardwick said.

"We were well behind on the scoreboard and we started to turn the game our way. It's a great sign of our maturity and the evolving leadership of our group."

McIntosh was impressive on debut for the Tigers, opening the game with nine first-quarter disposals and leading from the front as Richmond got itself back into the match in the second quarter.

The 192cm midfielder finished with 23 possessions and should give Richmond another handy midfield option this season.

 

So too should former Cat Taylor Hunt, who was equally impressive in his club debut, racking up a game-high 27 possessions.

Jack Riewoldt worked his way into the game after being well held by Michael Jamison early, clearly emerging with the points after kicking a game-high four goals and taking eight marks.

 

Riewoldt was well supported in attack by Ben Griffiths and Sam Lloyd (both three goals), while Brandon Ellis (26 possessions) and Bachar Houli (21) were also among Richmond's best players.

The Blues' night was a disappointing one, the first quarter aside.

Too often they missed easy targets, with even the classy Bryce Gibbs guilty of some careless turnovers.

Mick Malthouse said it was always going to be tough to win against a "top-eight side" like Richmond, but the Blues coach thought his team should have been further ahead early in the second quarter.

"We missed some pretty obvious (goals) in a game of football that when you get opportunities you should take them," Malthouse said. 

"The first game is always a mad scramble I reckon. 

"When you lose a real class player – Thomas is a real class player – then it shuffles your whole midfield. We've got the same numbers but when you lose that type of player it does throw you out a bit." 

Sam Docherty fought hard all night in defence, Chris Judd and Tom Bell burrowed into contest after contest in the midfield and Troy Menzel (two goals) was dangerous in attack if starved of opportunity after quarter-time.

After a bright start Lachie Henderson and former Western Bulldog Liam Jones were well held by Tigers defenders Alex Rance and Troy Chaplin.

Five talking points: Carlton v Richmond

The Blues dominated the first quarter, smashing Richmond at the stoppages where they won the clearance count 11-5.

But Carlton struggled to finish its good work off in front of goal, kicking 4.7 for the term to take a 16-point lead into quarter-time.

The Blues then kicked two of the first three goals of the second term and an upset looked on the cards.

But Richmond suddenly lifted its intensity and the game took on a completely different complexion.

The Tigers piled on the next 11 scores – just four were goals – to jump to an eight-point lead at the 28-minute mark of the term.

A minute later former Bulldog Jones, who kicked two of the Blues' four goals in the opening term, broke a 25-minute scoring drought for Carlton to cut the half-time margin to seven points.

Sam Lloyd enjoys a last-quarter goal in Richmond's win on Thursday night.  Picture: AFL Media

CARLTON      4.7   6.9    6.12   11.12   (78)
RICHMOND  2.3   7.10    9.13  15.15   (105)          

GOALS
Carlton: Jones 2, Menzel 2, Rowe 2, Bell, Gibbs, Jaksch, Simpson, Tuohy
Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Lloyd 3, Griffiths 3, Grigg 2, Gordon, Martin, McIntosh

BEST 
Carlton: Docherty, Simpson, White, Bell, Menzel, Judd
Richmond: McIntosh, Hunt, Riewoldt, Rance, Ellis, Vlastuin

INJURIES 
Carlton: Thomas (left shoulder), Yarran (right knee)
Richmond: Nil

SUBSTITUTES
Carlton: Clem Smith replaced Dale Thomas (shoulder) in the first quarter
Richmond: Nathan Gordon replaced Brett Deledio in the final quarter

Reports: Brett Deledio reported for rough conduct on Simon White in the first quarter

Umpires: Rosebury, Findlay, Ryan
Official crowd: 83,493 at the MCG