AFL Round One 2019: Carlton vs Richmond – Five things we learned

Footy’s back!
Jarrod Febbraio gives us his five takeaways from last night’s season opener.

Richmond gave the response we all expected

Similar to what we think Collingwood will do tonight, Richmond responded from their finals exit last season in the best possible way. Kicking the first six goals, they put a naive Carlton to the sword from the first siren. They were playing the way all Richmond fans wanted to see, getting the ball long into the 50, where the twin towers awaited them. The Tigers smelt blood early in they second term, but fair play to the Blues who worked their way back into the game nicely. Richmond fell into their shell in the second and third quarters, which is not something you would expect from such an experienced team. It may have taken the Alex Rance injury for Richmond to realise how much they really needed to lift and get over the line. Their last quarter was similar to the first, where they booted four goals to one, and played like their season was on the line. Obviously it wasn’t, and it is only round one, but there was no way the Tigers were going to let a young Blues side overrun them. Overall, a scrappy performance. Four points though, is four points.

Tom Lynch, while rusty, looked ominous

First impressions of Tom Lynch in a Richmond jumper look fantastic. The star recruit kicked three goals, should have kicked at least one more, and if his hands didn’t turn into jelly in the last quarter and a half, he could have had five or six. Maybe a bit of rust, most likely a bit of fatigue, but he was contesting. He was getting hands to the footy, and he was a handful. He will be a handful to every club he plays against this season. What fans may have worried about more rather than his ability to play footy, was whether he would fit the Tiger forward structure. Yes, it’s only been 120 minutes, but he didn’t look to disrupt what has been a menacing Tiger forward line – that’s for sure. The first goal of the game showed this to a tee, where Jack Riewoldt flew and nearly got hands to ball, before Tom Lynch took a contested mark of his own out the back of the pack. Jack will hope for better games in the future and so will Tom, but if they played average and still kicked four between them – imagine when they’re on song.

Carlton’s recruiting paints a nice picture

Carlton’s off season consisted of expectation. Carlton fans demanded recruitment and demanded players that were going to come in and take weight off the likes of Patrick Cripps and Kade Simpson. That they did. Nic Newman was arguably the Blues’ best player, which included a goal from the pocket that was truly massive. Sam Walsh looked as if he’d been in the system for years, as he racked up possessions like a veteran. His efficiency an issue, but it was his first game. Will Setterfield the same, but the issue of 2018 where Cripps would need to get 40 for the Blues to get any midfield ball, looks to be gone. Alex Fasolo played a roll and added some class, while Mitch McGovern competed extremely well and gave them an outlet. Michael Gibbons the same. Carlton fans should be impressed with all of their recruits, as it seems that they no longer have a side with five or six passengers.

Can life without Rance be managed?

It’s funny how footy works. Richmond played their best footy after Rance went off through injury, but we know that the injury had nothing to do with it. Alex Rance is one of the best full backs of the modern era, to see him with a suspected ACL is devastating for all footy fans. If it is the worst possible scenario, can the Tigers manage? Time will tell, but Dylan Grimes and David Astbury have shown in the past 24 months that they can step up and be big game players. They’ll have to do this for the rest of the season now, with their general on the sidelines. Will Nick Vlaustin be able to play tall? Maybe Noah Balta will have to be put down back, where he played his best footy in the VFL last season. The more likely scenario for mine, is Ryan Garthwaite coming back into the mix. Garthwaite played a few games last season and looked quite solid. He is coming back from injury which may see him a few more weeks away, but I think this is the more likely outcome from this Rance injury. In saying that, no outcome will be able to compensate for the loss of Rance.

How do we look at Carlton’s loss?

This is a tough one. Carlton lost by 33, which is seven points more than they lost by last season. We were all pumping up the Blues this time last season after they played with so much heart and fight. They were in the game for 3 quarters last season, about the same as last night as well. We know what happened to Carlton’s season after this. Why is it different? We’ve already spoken about their recruits who will make them a much better team – you’d think. I’d also like to think that the Carlton of last season would have got beaten by 12+ goals if they were down by 40 points at the start of the second quarter. They showed a lot of maturity for such a young team to gradually get back into the game. At one point, they did have the Tigers on the ropes. But we learnt from last season that the Blues could quite easily go back into their shell, so I will not make any assumptions just yet.

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