Blues deliver spirited AFL effort v Tigers

·2-min read

The margin of defeat was similar but Carlton actually served up their most competitive performance in an AFL season-opener for years.

The Blues have now lost their first match of the season against Richmond for nine years in a row after succumbing to the reigning premiers by 25 points at the MCG on Thursday night.

Richmond pulled away late with the final three goals but the match was in the balance until the dying stages with the Blues closing to within five points with seven minutes remaining.

In a darkly ironic twist for Carlton, the margin was one point greater than the corresponding game last year, when they were never in with a chance of causing an upset.

"I had a lot of confidence in the guys that ran out to go out and get the job done," Blues coach David Teague said.

"We believed that we had a team to win the game and we gave ourselves a chance, but we didn't make the most of some opportunities.

"Richmond have won the key performance indicators in a few areas convincingly, yet we still looked dangerous.

"We're a 120-minute team and at the end there we probably just gave up a couple of goals where you've got to fight tooth and nail to the end."

Carlton took it up to Richmond, who had 20 of 22 players from last year's grand final-winning team, only missing captain Trent Cotchin (gastro) and defender Bachar Houli (calf).

The Blues were without Jack Martin (calf), star recruit Zac Williams (suspension), Mitch McGovern, Caleb Marchbank and Eddie Betts.

Forward Jack Silvangi suffered a partial dislocation of his shoulder during the second term and was replaced by former Melbourne player Oscar McDonald, who became the first activated medical substitution.

The Blues will be back at the MCG next Thursday night for another showdown against Collingwood.