Nearly six months after the 2016 AFL grand final, the first game of the new year has finally been played – and it was Tigers fans in rapture and full voice after a seven-goal win over Carlton.
So what did we learn out of tonight?
There’s nothing rusty about Dusty
He won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and he might not hang around for an interview if you ask him about his contract. But Dustin Martin has the talent to make any new deal he signs have six zeroes on the end of it. As Bruce McAvaney said last night “we’re seeing a young champion at the peak of his powers…D Martin, three votes, that’s a certainty.” Martin finished with 33 touches and four goals and quite frankly bullied the Carlton midfield at times.
Weitering the forward threat
The Blues’ No. 1 draft pick of 2015 showed signs of being a key defensive star last year but tonight he bobbed up as a forward…and looked very much the part. His mobility on the lead stood out and with more meat on his frame he’ll develop a power game to go with it. The fact he had Alex Rance, the competition’s best one-on-one defender, standing him at times is testament to the kind of ability Weitering has. Jarrod Pickett also displayed glimpses for Carlton on debut after failing to play a game in his time at GWS.
Richmond’s new boys showed up
Sydney recruit Toby Nankervis booted a pair of goals, former Sun Dion Prestia got a stack of the ball and Dan Butler – who has been on the list for two years at Tigerland without playing – was lively forward, with a pair of majors. And then there was this effort from Josh Caddy which just about put the nail in the Blues’ coffin.
A gulf in class
Richmond might not end up being any good this year…I mean really, what does a 43-point win over a team as green as Carlton tell you. But this passage of play in the second quarter summed up the difference between the two side: Carlton hesitant and sluggish around the wing, before an off-target chip into the middle of the ground that a far more direct Richmond took full advantage of.
From Halls Creek to the G’
Barring circumstance unforeseen, young West Aussie product Sam Petrevski-Seton will certainly have better games for the Blues. But Carlton fans would have liked the way he moves and can look forward to what he might produce once he’s acclimatised to the pace of the AFL. Until then, they can enjoy his epic rat’s tail.