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Tigers continue their roll, top Blues after early scrap

Highlights: Richmond v Carlton The Tigers and Blues clash in round 15
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 10: Alex Rance of the Tigers in action during the 2015 AFL round 15 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Carlton Blues at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia on July 10, 2015. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Alex Rance was impassable in Richmond's backline in Friday night's win

RICHMOND has scrapped its way to a seventh win in its past eight games, recording an important 30-point victory over a determined Carlton at the MCG on Friday night.

In a dour, error-riddled contest that saw 55 free kicks paid, the Tigers managed to make the most of their opportunities to run out 10.11 (71) to 5.11 (41) winners, Jack Riewoldt booting three goals.

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After the Tigers built a 35-point lead midway through the third quarter, the Blues hit back to almost be within striking distance at three quarter-time.

Five talking points: Richmond v Carlton 

However, an umpiring decision late in the quarter that saw Matthew Kreuzer denied a shot for goal after not being paid what appeared a clear mark stopped their momentum.

 

It was a pivotal moment, because the Tigers were then able to steady and close out the game in the last quarter without being seriously challenged on the scoreboard.

The Tigers improved to 9-5 with their third straight victory over Carlton, and have their sights set on a top-four berth, leapfrogging Collingwood on the ladder into fifth place.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick didn't talk the game up as a spectacle, but was happy to bank the four points.

"Twelve months or 24 months ago, if we're not playing our best footy we don't win," he said.

"If you look at the last 25 games we've played, we've won a lot (17 games).

"We're nowhere near playing our best at the moment, we understand that, but we're winning. We've got a lot of improvement in us."

Carlton remains in 16th place and dropped to 3-11 with the loss, and fell to 2-4 under interim coach John Barker. 

 

Key defender Alex Rance was outstanding for the Tigers in the first half, intercepting Carlton's attacking moves and setting up inside 50s for the Blues.

WATCH: Riewoldt and Rance dictate terms

Rance restricted Blues' forward Lachie Henderson to just three disposals and no goals in the first half when matched up on him.

Henderson was unable to break Rance's shackles, and pushed back into defence more often in the second half where he looked more comfortable.

 

The Blues were forced to patch up their defence after losing key defender Michael Jamison in the opening minutes of the game, after he had an accidental head clash with Ty Vickery when the Richmond forward bumped him in an attempt to block.

Unfortunately for Vickery, the incident is sure to be examined as Jamison was subbed off the ground.

Simon White battled hard to contain Riewoldt, but Jamison's experience was sorely missed.

While tackling was high on the Blues' agenda, they could not use the ball effectively, with both sides struggling to string together possessions.

Trent Cotchin's class was important even though Andrew Carrazzo tagged the Tigers' skipper.

Cotchin kicked a goal late in the first half when Blues speedster Chris Yarran gave away a 50-metre penalty to put the midfielder in range, and then snapped a nice goal in the third quarter.

 

His sidekick Brett Deledio provided good support, kicking a goal while being instrumental in setting up scoring opportunities.

In the second half, midfielder Shaun Grigg went to work, and along with Anthony Miles created some ascendancy for Richmond at the stoppages.

The Tigers created an inside 50 from more than half their stoppages in the second half, which also gave Damien Hardwick the luxury of pushing Dustin Martin forward in the final quarter.

Blues' midfielders Bryce Gibbs and Marc Murphy battled hard, and Kreuzer was a positive influence. Young midfielder Patrick Cripps continued to show his class in tight, and Zach Tuohy did his best.

Carlton coach John Barker said it was a game where the Blues missed opportunities.

"We shot ourselves in the foot," Barker said.

"We've got a lot of work to do in a lot of areas. Obviously we need to be better with our [skill] execution. Our effort has been really good from a consistency point of view but I think tonight it was dialled back a little bit. I'm not sure we saw the same ferocious attitude that we have seen in the last few weeks."

The game was tight with plenty of stoppages, and the 55 free kicks was in stark contrast to the Port Adelaide v Collingwood clash 24 hours earlier, when a total of 15 frees were paid.

Richmond 's quest to push into the top four continues when it meets St Kilda next week.

Carlton continued its run of competitive performances under Barker, but faces a tough away trip to play Fremantle next round. 

Jack Riewoldt continued his strong run of form with three crucial goals. Picture: AFL Media 

RICHMOND    2.2   4.5   8.7   10.11 (71)
CARLTON      1.4   2.7   4.9   5.11 (41) 

GOALS
Richmond:
Riewoldt 3, Cotchin 2, Deledio, Edwards, Grigg, Vickery, Martin
Carlton: Casboult 2, Everitt, Henderson, Kreuzer 

BEST
Richmond: Rance, Riewoldt, Deledio, Grigg, Cotchin 
Carlton: Carrazzo, Kreuzer, Gibbs, Tuohy, Murphy

INJURIES
Richmond: 
Edwards (leg) 
Carlton: Jamison (concussion), Armfield (arm)

SUBSTITUTES
Richmond:
Shane Edwards replaced by Kane Lambert in the third quarter
Carlton: Michael Jamison replaced by Jason Tutt in the first quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Farmer, Bannister, Pannell

Official crowd: 52,564 at the MCG