Monday, July 13, 2015

Richmond V Carlton 10/07/2015 (MCG)

It's hard to know what to say about this game, because as a spectacle it never reached any great heights. I can only think of two highlights and I'll talk about them later.

It has been a season of contrasting fortunes for the two clubs this year. Carlton started it off with their coach optimistically saying that he couldn't see any reason why they'd lost a game this year. Richmond kind of blew that out of the water in the opening round by giving them a handy opening quarter lead and still running them down to record a win. Things didn't improve and they sacked their coach midway through the season, replacing him with assistant John Barker as the caretaker coach for the remainder of the season.

The former Fitzroy and Hawthorn player has done a little better than his predecessor. The Blues don't win many games, but at least their losses are competitive.

The Tigers on the other hand wanted to improve on last season's effort by not just making the finals, but aiming for top 4 and actually winning final. It looked dire after the loss to North Melbourne, but since then they've had two winning streaks, one of 4 matches and were in another one approaching this game.

Despite their relative ladder positions and the evidence that the Tigers are a far better side than Carlton this year, this was still a danger game for Richmond. Carlton often do well against their old rival, and it had been some years since we'd racked up 3 consecutive victories against them, or beaten them twice in a season. (The fixturing is the reason we get 2 games against the Blues before we've even played some sides once).

It was a dour struggle played in cold, damp conditions. After Jack Riewoldt kicked the first goal of the game inside the opening minute, Richmond were never headed, increasing their lead a little at each change. The Blues hung on for most of the game, but were blown by a ten minute burst in the 3rd quarter where Richmond kicked 4 or 5 unanswered goals and extended the lead to 35 points. The Blues fought back a bit and got to within 4 goals, but were eventually sunk by 5 in the end. While it was an uninspiring game against sub standard opposition I wasn't that upset about it. I enjoyed the 10 minute blitz. I've been to plenty of games where I've watched the same thing happen to the Tigers. It's a sign to me that we're getting better if we can do this to other sides. Yes, good sides do play poor opposition away, they also do what they need to to win games without extending themselves overly to do it.

Those highlights I mentioned earlier? One was a goal to Carlton forward Levi Casboult. He received a free kick in the middle of the ground and launched a bomb from outside 50 that sailed through the goals. Has to be one of the goals of the year. The other was Alex Rance, he held the highly rated Lachie Henderson to 3 possessions in the first half, while picking up 18 himself, that's unheard of for a defender, but the competition hasn't seen many defenders playing like Alex Rance has in 2015. There are people out there going to the games purely and simply to see what he does. It's not possible for anyone to award the 1, 2 and 3 votes to a single player, but if it were, Alex Rance would have received that for his efforts against Carlton on that night.

Alex Rance breaks his opponent's heart yet again.

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