Blues charge down Tigers in AFL opener - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blues charge down Tigers in AFL opener

By Sam Lienert 25/03/2011 12:46:08 AM Comments (0)

Carlton produced a last-quarter escape to avoid an upset loss to Richmond as the two clubs finally turned on a tight AFL season-opener at the MCG.

The Blues fought back from 14 points down at the last change to win 14.20 (104) to 13.6 (84) in front of 60,654 fans.

It was their sixth straight win over Richmond and third straight on the opening night of the season, but after the blowouts of the past two years, coach Brett Ratten was made to endure a much more nervous night.

Eddie Betts kicked three goals for the winners, with midfielder Marc Murphy outstanding with 31 touches and a goal.

Reigning Coleman Medallist Jack Riewoldt booted six for the Tigers, including the last three of the third term to give the Blues an enormous fright.

Carlton had dominated the first half, but left the door open with their inaccuracy, leading 9.10 to 7.0 at the main break.

Richmond came charging through in the third quarter, kicking six goals to none to storm 14 points clear.

Answering that challenge was made harder for the Blues, as they lost key forward Jarrad Waite just before halftime.

He became the first player taken off under both the new substitute rule and the new concussion rule, after receiving a head knock late in the half.

But Carlton skipper Chris Judd - who had an excellent first half but was overshadowed by opponent Daniel Jackson during Richmond's third-term charge - sparked the Blues' revival.

He kicked a running goal early in the final quarter to reduce the gap to nine points.

The Blues edged closer when Jeff Garlett pounced brilliantly on a Brett Deledio mistake, snaring the Tiger's muffed kick from defence at close range and snapping a goal.

Dennis Armfield then gave Carlton the lead with a snap under pressure nearing time-on, before two late goals sealed the win.

Along with Murphy, fellow midfield young gun Bryce Gibbs was a big contributor for Carlton, while Robert Warnock controlled the ruck.

For Richmond, Riewoldt was the star, captain Chris Newman provided some outstanding rebound from defence, and new Tigers Shaun Grigg, Bachar Houli and Reece Conca all showed plenty.

Carlton coach Brett Ratten said the loss of Waite upset his side's balance in the third term and Richmond also won most contested ball in that quarter.

Had the new substitution rule not been in place, Waite might have returned.

"That's the rules, you deal with it and get on," he said.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said the Tigers had tired badly in the last term.

The reduced interchange bench, combined with having to sub off midfielder Nathan Foley early in the second half due to the effects of a stomach upset, fatigued his young side.

Hardwick said he made a mistake picking Foley.

But he said there were some good signs, including promising debuts from Reece Conca, Jake Batchelor and Brad Helbig, and the team's fightback.

"The general footy public will look at our side and say: `Gee they competed well'," he said.

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