Richmond won an eighth straight Thursday night AFL season opener over Carlton, but the return of footy was soured for some by the first proper look at the league's new 'stand' rule.
Introduced for the 2021 season, the rule prohibits the man on the mark from moving laterally, with a harsh 50m penalty whistled if they do.
'BLIGHT ON THE GAME': AFL 'farce' leaves fans fuming
'I WASN'T THERE': AFL coach exposes major untruth about new rule
Carlton's Sam Petrevski-Seton became the first player to be pinged for infringing the rule, with a 50m penalty given to Tigers rival Josh Caddy enough for the reigning premiers to score in the moments before half time.
Petrevski-Seton had moved backwards off the mark and forward again, and didn't appear to hear the umpire warning him not to do so before the 50m penalty was called.
Channel 7 commentator Luke Hodge said it was a harsh call, with the umpire penalising the Blues star roughly 20m away from him.
“That’s the hardest thing as a player when there’s a crowd there,” Hodge said.
“We could all hear it because we’ve got the mic, but the player is 20m away from (the umpire), he could not hear him and he thought he’d backed back enough.”
The introduction of the rule has caused some consternation among AFL fans, with former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas a vocal critic.
"If the AFL are happy for games to be decided by 50m penalties because of their man on mark rule the game is truly cooked," he tweeted on Thursday.
Former North Melbourne big man Corey McKernan was a little more blunt in his assessment of the rule.
"What the f*** has our game become," he wrote.
There were plenty of other fans happy to weigh in on the new rule.
Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury called for 'common sense' on the rule, which he argued should only be enforced when players move left to right off the mark, instead of forcing the defender to be at a complete standstill.
"Since we can make rules changes very quickly in our game. Man on the mark rule, east west movement equals 50, north south doesn’t matter," he tweeted.
"It’s about opening up 45’s. Common sense please."
Richmond defeat Carlton in AFL season opener
Richmond have celebrated the unfurling of two premiership flags with a Dustin Martin-inspired 25-point victory over Carlton in an enthralling AFL season-opener at the MCG.
Recent clashes between the arch-rivals have been one-sided, with Richmond not losing to the Blues since 2013, but Carlton made the reigning premiers work to the end on Thursday night.
However, Richmond's experience ultimately proved too strong as they pulled away late in every quarter to win 15.15 (105) to 11.14 (80) in front of 49,218 fans - the first crowd at an AFL men's game in Victoria since 2019.
The margin blew out late, but Carlton appeared to have a genuine chance of an upset when they closed to within five points with seven minutes remaining.
But as they did in the second and third quarters, the Tigers hit back every time Carlton challenged and powered away with three unanswered goals to seal the game.
The Tigers did it without three-time premiership captain Trent Cotchin (illness), but stand-in skipper Jack Riewoldt stepped up as the veteran forward booted four goals.
Superstar Martin was at his brilliant best, collecting 31 possessions and two goals - one a near-carbon copy of his first major in last year's grand final - while Kane Lambert and Jack Graham were also important.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.