Martin stars to steer Tigers past Blues

RICHMOND 7.3 13.5 15.11 20.12 (132)CARLTON 4.3 7.4 12.4 14.5 (89)GOALS – Richmond: Martin 4, Butler 2, Rioli 2, Castagna 2, Nankervis 2, Prestia, Caddy, Riewoldt, Vlastuin, Edwards, Grigg, Lloyd, Cotchin. Carlton: Weitering 3, Wright 3, Silvagni 2, Kreuzer 2, Gibbs, Armfield, Thomas, Casboult.BEST – Richmond: Martin, Prestia, Castagna, Cotchin, Butler, Nankervis, Vlastuin.Carlton: Murphy, Weitering, Gibbs, Kreuzer, Wright, SimpsonUMPIRES Stevic, Hay, Nicholls.CROWD 73,137 at MCG.


Playing a style of football as bold as the new shade of yellow on their jumper, Richmond began a fork-in-the-road season with a win over a Carlton side that provided a fair share of excitement too, as well as a brief scare for Tigers coach Damien Hardwick.

Having clawed their way back from more than seven goals in arrears, the Blues had nudged the door slightly ajar to find themselves 25 points behind with a quarter to play at the MCG on Thursday night.

But the fears of the always sizeable Tiger faithful were allayed by two moments of brilliance from the man whose signature they so desperately crave. Already clearly the best player on the ground, Dustin Martin set up a pair of goals to secure the first four points on offer this season. The first was a trademark fend-off to shrug a Sam Docherty tackle, leading to Daniel Rioli’s second goal of the evening. Then even more spectacularly Martin launched a bomb from one end of the centre square to the other, creating a forward 50 footrace that ended in Josh Caddy’s first major at his third AFL club.

Richmond probably shouldn’t have needed Martin’s steadying hand, because for most of the night they were the far superior team. Assisted by some panicked Carlton ball use, Richmond put Carlton to the sword with a 13-goal first-half blitz, employing a direct brand of football barely recognisable from laboured recent seasons.

The Tigers got strong contributions from three of the four new names in their 22. Dion Prestia played an impressive second midfield fiddle to Martin, ruckman Toby Nankervis broke even in an engrossing duel with Blues counterpart Matthew Kreuzer, while debutant Dan Butler combined with Rioli and Jason Castagna to cause plenty of headaches at ground level for Carlton’s back line.

Carlton’s new players were beaten comparatively, although Caleb Marchbank not surprisingly found plenty of the ball in defence, even if he didn’t always use it well. Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs were prominent in the midfield, but perhaps the best sign for Carlton was the three-goal effort of a sore Jacob Weitering. Playing as the Blues’ spearhead in a nod to Carlton’s relative weakness in attack, the teenager took it up to Alex Rance. Still it was a familiar result for Brendon Bolton’s side, who slumped to their 11th defeat in 12 games, not including three pre-season defeats this year from as many starts.

Carlton looked like lambs to the slaughter early, as Richmond put through three goals in the first eight minutes. The Blues briefly steadied, and their score ticked over relatively freely for much of the first half. But the Tigers were kicking almost two goals for each one of theirs, even allowing for an early-season case of the yips for Jack Riewoldt. Most of the Tigers’ new faces had goaled by quarter-time, with Nankervis, Prestia and Butler giving their fans early cause for cheer. Had Caddy not missed an early shot, they could have had the complete set. Promisingly, too, there were first-quarter majors for both Trent Cotchin and Martin.

The second quarter started in similar fashion, with the Tigers again making an early run. With Prestia, Martin and Cotchin dominating the clearance battle, Richmond’s direct style put pressure on the Blues’ backline. Martin added two more in the first half of the second term on his way to four for the night, and by the 15-minute mark of the quarter Richmond’s total had reached 71, incidentally the Blues’ average score last year. Seven-goal deficits are seldom overturned. But one thing the Blues showed plenty of last year was grit, and Carlton generated faint hope when they responded to a quick Riewoldt goal following the interval by adding five of the next six.


D. Martin (Richmond) 9 D. Prestia (Richmond) 8 M. Murphy (Carlton) 7 J. Weitering (Carlton) 7 J. Castagna (Richmond) 6