A vintage Richmond have stormed back into premiership contention after holding off a desperate Carlton at the MCG.
A controversial score review – which overturned a Jack Newnes snap that had momentarily put the Blues within three points deep into the final quarter – proved pivotal in what minutes earlier had appeared to be heading towards a comfortable Richmond win.
But the tough, tenacious and at times taunting Tigers outfit was unrelenting against an injury-ravaged Carlton, who tried hard but ultimately fell short of their cleaner, classier opponents.
The result has had a significant impact on the make-up of the top eight, with Richmond now ensconced among a logjam of teams, including Geelong, St Kilda and Sydney. While for the Blues, they are now likely to fall outside the top four within the day if the Saints can account for Essendon tonight.
Five goals between Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt, and two from star Shai Bolton – including a controversial crumbing goal after showing the ball to a chasing Sam Docherty – was too much firepower for the injury-impacted Carlton defence, which looked all at sea on several occasions.
But in a game that appeared dead at various stages, the Blues continued to rally and at one point looked like they may steal the result as persistent rain eventually subsided in the final quarter.
Three consecutive Harry McKay goals – who prior to that had one disposal for the match – dragged Carlton back into the game. And had Newnes’ snap had not been touched by the outstretched hand of Nathan Broad – and overturned inside the AFL’s ARC – then the Blues would have been even closer.
Carlton’s comeback had come from nearly nowhere and not long after a series of fracas involving two of the Blues’ high-profile leaders.
An enraged Patrick Cripps took umbrage with a push from Dion Prestia just seconds before the three-quarter-time siren and the two began an all-in melee at the final change.
Then, Cripps’ former co-captain Sam Docherty found himself being taunted by Bolton in the early stages of the final quarter when the Tiger was running into an open goal.
As Bolton approached the goal square, he turned back to the chasing opponent and held the ball out with his left hand, as if begging Docherty to chase harder.
The incident was met with loud boos from Carlton supporters as the incident was replayed on the big screens.
TIGERS CONTROL BOTH ENDS
Richmond inflicted a lot of the damage early in the match. The Tigers kept Carlton to their first goalless opening quarter since 2020 to lead by 16 points at quarter-time and then piled on the pressure with a clearance domination in the second term to lead by 25 points at the main break.
The Tigers were harder, cleaner and more consistent in the trying conditions, leading contested possessions by eight at half-time.
And while Lewis Young and debutant Sam Durdin struggled to keep Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt under wraps, the opposite could be said at the other end.
A masterclass from the likes of Dylan Grimes, Nick Vlastuin and Robbie Tarrant meant Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow were almost non-existent early in the game.
In fact, in an opening quarter in which Carlton were unable to impact the scoreboard, the Tigers had just two more inside-50s, which pointed to both their efficiency going forward but also their resilience in defence.
3. 2 7. 6 8. 10 11. 15 (81)
0. 4 3. 5 6. 8 9. 12 (66)
Richmond: Lynch 3, Riewoldt 2, Bolton 2, Pickett, Rioli, Edwards, Balta.
Carlton: McKay 4, Curnow, Martin, O’Brien, Hewett, Durdin.
Richmond: Lynch, Prestia, Bolton, Vlastuin, Edwards, Grimes.
Carlton: Walsh, Cripps, McKay, Docherty, O’Brien.
Richmond: Balta (hamstring).
Carlton: Martin (lower leg).
Hosking, Williamson, Findlay.
50,741 at the MCG.
Tom Lynch (Richmond) 7
Dion Prestia (Richmond) 7
Patrick Cripps (Carlton) 6
Sam Walsh (Carlton) 6
Nick Vlastuin (Richmond) 6