Tigers launch AFL season with eerie win

Jason Phelan
Dustin Martin had 24 possessions and scored a goal in Richmond's round one AFL win over Carlton

Both need to work on their social distancing, but there was a bit to like for Richmond and Carlton out of the the Tigers' 24-point win at an eerily quiet MCG without any fans.

The season opener, that was only confirmed 24 hours before Thursday night's opening bounce amidst coronavirus concerns, was dominated by the reigning premiers early while the Blues fought back after halftime.

In David Teague's first game in charge as full-time coach, Carlton slashed a 50-point margin to 15 in the final term before going down 16.9 (105) to 12.9 (81).

As all good sports do, the players began seeking out their opponents to shake hands after the final siren, which of course is a big no-no these days.

Despite the quickfire start, Damien Hardwick marked the reigning premiers down for a lack of discipline at times later on.

And he also took a thinly-veiled swipe at the umpiring for some close checking on Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch, who went goalless.

"I thought Tom and Jack battled but I thought they battled against guys ... I'm thinking how to say this diplomatically," Hardwick said.

"I don't think I can, so I'm not going to say it.

"Look at the tape."

Dustin Martin warmed into the match to finish with 24 possessions and a goal.

Dion Prestia (25 disposals) and Trent Cotchin (19) were prominent in the first game played with newly-introduced shortened 16-minute plus time-on quarters.

Daniel Rioli, Shai Bolton, Jason Castagna and Riewoldt all kicked three goals.

Having lost ruckman Matthew Kreuzer to a foot injury in the first quarter, the Blues trailed by a game-high 50 points in the third.

But star recruit Jack Martin kicked four goals in the third term as the Blues kicked seven of eight goals to slice the margin to 15 points in the last quarter.

"I thought the boys showed resilience throughout the game and found a way to play more our style in the second half," Teague said.

"I know our supporters out there will be pretty happy with the way that we fought out the game.

"But I don't really want to be a team that just competes - we came here to win."

Along with Martin, Patrick Cripps was instrumental in the fightback, the co-captain gathering 31 touches.

In his first game since round 23, 2017, Sam Docherty was outstanding with 26 disposals in his comeback from two knee reconstructions.