Gritty Richmond outlast tough Blues in AFL

It wasn’t pretty, but Richmond continued their push up the AFL ladder with a grinding 30-point win over Carlton on Friday night at the MCG.

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The Tigers struggled to shake the dogged Blues for three quarters, but kicked away to a 10.11 (71) to 5.11 (41) win – their seventh victory in their past eight matches.

Neither side will enjoy Monday’s review of a sloppy first half punctuated by skill errors and poor decision making.

Andrew Carrazzo put a hard tag on Trent Cotchin and kept the Richmond skipper to just one handball in the first quarter, but he sprang into action in the second with 10 touches and a goal after a Chris Yarran brain fade gifted him a 50m penalty.

The Blues suffered a blow early when they lost Michael Jamison to a concussion. The unsuspecting full-back was met solidly by a Tyrone Vickery block off the ball that will surely attract close scrutiny from the match review panel.

Vickery soon found himself in the wars with a stray Matthew Kreuzer elbow forcing him from the field holding a dislodged tooth, but he was able to return.

Both teams were poor entering their forward 50, but the Blues were even more wasteful in front of goal when they managed to manufacture a scoring opportunity.

Alex Rance played a big role in disrupting Carlton’s forward thrusts as he blanketed Lachie Henderson and, with 18 first-half possessions, ran the ball out of trouble with apparent ease.

The Tigers’ four-point quarter-time lead edged out to 10 at the main break but, with Bryce Gibbs and March Murphy prominent around the stoppages, Carlton were still somehow in the contest despite managing just two goals in the first half.

But while the Blues continued to struggle in attack after the restart, the Tigers finally managed to get their house in order.

Jack Riewoldt kicked the first goal of the game and helped himself to another two as Richmond made their move. The margin blew out to 35 points on the back of a four-goal burst.

But Carlton dug deep and enjoyed a bright patch with two goals that might well have been three if Kreuzer hadn’t been denied a clear mark, that was instead paid to his opponent, deep inside forward 50.

Carrazzo spurned a golden opportunity to make it a 16-point game with the first set shot of the final term, with his miss proving costly when Vickery settled Richmond nerves with the easiest of goals soon after.

“It wasn’t pretty at all, but we take the win and we move on,” Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said.

“It was just one of those games where we just couldn’t quite get free at any stage.

“I thought we had opportunities to kick goals inside 50. We just butchered a few inside 50 kicks that we should have quite easily scored goals from but just weren’t clean enough.”

Tigers’ midfielder Shane Edwards was on crutches following the game after suffering a lower leg injury, with Hardwick unsure of his prognosis.

The Blues have taken some positive strides forward since Barker took over from Mick Malthouse, but the interim coach agreed his side took a step back with the uneven performance.

“I don’t think we had weight of numbers in terms of effort,” Barker said.

“Everyone needs to contribute and I think we’ve had a lot more in terms of contributors over the previous four or five weeks.”

Jamison was taken to hospital for a precautionary scans on his face and Dennis Armfield joined him there after he left the game at three-quarter time with a sore arm.