Richmond have withstood another Carlton comeback to win a pulsating clash between two of the AFL’s fiercest rivals by 12 points.
Dustin Martin goaled with seconds left to ensure the 14.14 (98) to 12.14 (86) blockbuster win on Thursday night at the MCG.
Ty Vickery provided a strong focal point for Richmond in attack, booting four goals, while midfielders Martin and Brandon Ellis finished with two apiece. Tigers skipper Trent Cotchin had 25 disposals.
His opposite number Marc Murphy was good for Carlton with 28 touches and Chris Yarran used his pace to grab three goals.
Given the recent history between these two teams, there would have been big questions about the Tigers had they blown this match after shooting out to a 37-point lead in the second term.
It looked like that might be the case when they led by just a goal late on with the Blues surging, but Ben Griffiths, who had made a couple of bad errors earlier in the match, took a game-saving mark deep in defence.
The Tigers then moved the ball up the ground and Martin worked his way around Zach Tuohy to kick the match-sealing goal.
Carlton had won 11 of their previous 12 matches against Richmond and came back in all three of their games last year.
Most recently, the Blues overcame a 26-point lead to win the elimination final.
So there was a strong sense of deja vu when the Blues roared back in the second half.
It was a brave rally from Carlton, who were without Chris Judd and late withdrawal Matthew Kreuzer.
But they were wasteful, kicking 3.7 in the last term with two more shots that went out on the full.
Richmond grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in the first nine minutes, kicking four goals.
Carlton managed to restrict the damage, but still trailled by 23 points at the first change.
The Tigers were full of run and Carlton were also making too many turnovers.
Blues coach Mick Malthouse made a crucial move, putting Andrejs Everitt onto Tigers utility Brett Deledio.
After a strong first quarter, Deledio struggled to have an impact.
Martin was reported in the second quarter after a scuffle with Carlton’s Simon White.
The Tigers twice led by 37 points in the second quarter.
But a strong tackle from Jarrad Waite set up Yarran’s second goal and the Blues trailed by 31 points at the main break.
Carlton were in touch and they ramped up the pressure in the third term.
Second-gamer Dylan Buckley was giving Carlton plenty of run, while Waite lifted and the Blues’ disposal efficiency improved noticeably.
They kicked four goals to two and reduced the margin to 23 points at the last change, ramping up the pressure on Richmond.
Carlton could have been even closer, but for three missed shots late in the term.
Carlton levelled the score 19 minutes into the last term thanks a behind from Waite – one of many shots that should have been a goal for the Blues. Jeff Garlett was the chief offender, hitting the post after trying to dribble the ball along the ground running into an open goal.
From there the Tigers kicked 2.2 to two behinds.
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick looked exhausted post-match and joked at the end of his media conference that he was heading out for a beer.
He rated his team’s performance as six out of 10 and said they were under siege in the last term.
“To kick away late and for the guys to find the courage we were out on our feet there, no doubt,” he added.
Hardwick praised veteran Chris Newman for his efforts in the last term.
Blues coach Mick Malthouse said all his team’s comeback lacked was some poise when kicking for goal.
“You take the good with the bad,” he said.
“It wasn’t all doom and gloom – it was a very good fightback.”