Despite the absence of gun full-forward Brendan Fevola, the Blues were able to find other avenues towards goal as they finished with 18.12 (120) to Richmond’s 9.10 (64) in front of a crowd of 72,010.
Five goals to five individual goal kickers in the opening 13 minutes of the game clearly signalled the Blues’ intentions to prove their critics wrong. By the end of the night, forwards Setanta O’Hailpan, Eddie Betts, Chris Yarran and Jarrad Waite had combined for 11 goals between them and proved that this new-look forward line can kick winning scores without Fevola.
Carlton’s more experienced midfield had a field day, even with their regular captain Chris Judd on the sidelines due to suspension. They simply denied Richmond of the ball in the first quarter and by the time the Tigers started to find the ball, the game had already been won. The Blues dominated the final possession count gathering 114 more than the helpless Tigers and were more effective and mature when they had possession.
Stand-in skipper Andrew Carrazzo (40 possessions) was clearly best afield in his 100th game while Heath Scotland (32), Kade Simpson (28) and new recruit Brock McLean (26) also found plenty of the football. Betts (19 possessions and three goals) and Waite (17 possessions, 10 marks and two goals) presented tirelessly throughout the night and gave their midfield a forward target every time the Blues surged forward.
Richmond started poorly as they struggled to get their hands on the football during the opening minutes of the game. But even when they began to increase their possession count, the young Tigers started to turn ball over at crucial stages. The Tigers wasted numerous opportunities in front of goal and will have to work harder on their kicking efficiency.
However there were moments during the game when Richmond did look threatening. They came back twice from large deficits to go into the quarter time and half time breaks with some sort of momentum. But the Blues’ class, quality skills and mature heads proved to be the difference as they kicked seven goals to two in the second half to blow the Tigers away.
Brett Deledio (21 possessions), Trent Cotchin (19) and Daniel Jackson (23) tried hard for their team all night. Daniel Connors impressed in his new role across the half back line to finish the night with 24 possessions. Dustin Martin- the third pick in last year’s national draft- seemed settled on the big stage and impressed to finish with 18 possessions.
The Tigers’ loss somewhat soured what was a fitting farewell to a former champion of the club. Before the game, the now retired Matthew Richardson walked a lap of honour around the MCG in front of his adoring fans. He was overwhelmed as Tigers supporters gave him a standing ovation to say thanks for 17 wonderful years of faithful service to the Richmond Football Club.