THEY were tested and made to work for it, but the Tigers ultimately reigned supreme against their old rivals, seeing off Carlton by 15 points in a physical, hot-tempered affair at the MCG on Thursday night.
Just like it has for the best part of six seasons, Richmond took to the wet Melbourne conditions like a fish to water, but had to see off a spirited fight-back from the Blues who pushed the Tigers to the limit in a frantic final-term.
Unlike the last meeting where the Blues were able to wrestle back the ascendancy with an incredible last-quarter comeback in round one, Richmond steadied and took its chances when it mattered to secure the 11.15 (81) to 9.12 (66) victory and book its place back inside the top eight.
Richmond built a lead as large as 27 points early in the last quarter thanks to goals from Shai Bolton and Jack Riewoldt, but a hat-trick of goals from Harry McKay got the Blues back to single digits with just over ten minutes remaining.
Jack Newnes thought he had the margin back within three points but his snap, after review, was deemed to have been touched before Shane Edwards went back up the other way and kicked a much-needed goal which ultimately proved to be the sealer.
Dion Prestia, who got injured in the last meeting between the two sides, was instrumental in midfield (33 disposals, 13 clearances), while Tom Lynch booted three goals in his first game back from injury and Dylan Grimes was superb at the other-end keeping Coleman Medal leader Charlie Curnow to a single goal.
TIGERS v BLUES Full match coverage and stats
From the word go, Richmond looked to exert its will on the contest, as its all-systems go brand held up perfectly in the wet.
The Tigers tackled, harassed and moved the ball forward with speed - which created havoc in the Blues’ depleted back-half and allowed Richmond to kick the first six - showcasing no signs of a potential drop-off without the services of star Dustin Martin.
However, Carlton wasn't going to go down without a fight, as it started to not only take its chances in-front of goal but levelled the battle at the coal-face, as the likes of Sam Walsh (34 disposals, seven inside 50s) along with Sam Docherty (31 disposals, 11 marks) and Patrick Cripps (34 disposals) in his 150th game led the charge.
In the end, the Tigers’ fast-start, coupled with their poise under pressure was enough to get the job done, with the four points taking Damien Hardwick’s side to eighth place on the ladder, while the Blues miss the chance to go equal-first on the ladder and could fall as low as seventh by the end of the round.
The win did come at a cost with Noah Balta subbed out with a hamstring injury while Carlton lost Jack Martin (lower leg) and club debutant Sam Durdin (knee), further compounding the Blues’ injury crisis.
Baptism of fire
637 days. That’s how long it had been since Sam Durdin had last laced up the boots at AFL level. The ex-North Melbourne key defender, who has been at the Blues for a little over a fortnight, had to quite simply sink or swim in his first appearance for not only Carlton, but on the MCG, as he was thrown in the deep end against Richmond’s formidable key-forward duo due to Michael Voss’ side’s deepening defensive injury crisis. Durdin was given the tall task of going up against Jack Riewoldt and battled well, keeping him to two goals, but unfortunately his evening ended early after he went off in the final term with a knee injury - creating further headaches for Voss going into crunch games against fellow finals fancies Fremantle and St Kilda.
Tigers cool Charlie
Statistically, no team has been able to stifle Charlie Curnow’s impact better than Richmond this season. Heading into the game as the leader in the Coleman Medal race, Curnow hadn’t gone goalless since the opening round against the Tigers and again, the Blues key forward had the going tough as Dylan Grimes put on a defensive masterclass. Grimes battled manfully from the onset, not allowing the powerful forward to exert his will on the contest and was able to keep him to one goal for the night. The Tigers veteran wasn’t the only defender to impress as Nathan Broad stood out playing loose while Nick Vlaustin continued his solid season with another 24 disposal outing.
Sight for a sore eye
It’s fair to say, Adam Saad had a far from ideal start to the game. The Blues defender was in the hands of trainers within minutes of the first-bounce, after he copped an innocuous thumb to the eye from Tom Lynch, which in the same play led to Marlion Pickett booting the opening goal. Saad came from the ground immediately after and received treatment for his eye, but thankfully for Carlton, he was able to see out the game albeit with major swelling. In the end, the former Bomber ended up with 25 disposals along with a whopping 15 intercepts.
RICHMOND 3.2 7.6 8.10 11.15 (81)
CARLTON 0.4 3.5 6.8 9.12 (66)
Richmond: Lynch 3, Bolton 2, Riewoldt 2, Pickett, Balta, D.Rioli, Edwards
Carlton: McKay 4, Hewett, O’Brien, Curnow, C.Durdin, Martin
Richmond: Prestia, Lynch, Grimes, Short, Baker, Broad
Carlton: Walsh, Cripps, Docherty, McKay, Saad, Hewett
Richmond: Tarrant (knuckle), Balta (hamstring)
Carlton: Saad (eye), S.Durdin (knee), Martin (lower leg)
Richmond: Maurice Rioli jnr (replaced Noah Balta in the fourth quarter)
Carlton: Lachie Fogarty (replaced Jack Martin in the fourth quarter)
Crowd: 50,741 at the MCG