Sport AFL Luck of the draw: Collingwood, Richmond relaunch AFL season with MCG stalemate

Luck of the draw: Collingwood, Richmond relaunch AFL season with MCG stalemate

Trent Cotchin can only smile despite the draw against Collingwood that resumed the AFL season on Thursday night. Photo: AAP
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AFL heavyweights Collingwood and Richmond have played out their first draw in more than 100 years as football made a welcome return at the MCG on Thursday night.

Almost three months since the competition went into shutdown mode, the traditional rivals produced a dour slugfest in slippery conditions.

Tigers speedster Shai Bolton had the final chance to win the match in a frantic final few minutes, but his kick on the run from 50 metres dropped short and was knocked through for a behind.

The teams finished locked on 5.6 (36) apiece in what was only the second draw of their long and illustrious history – the first was way back in 1917.

Collingwood had kicked the first four goals of the match to shock the reigning premiers in a stunning first-quarter blitz.

But it managed just one after quarter-time as Tom Lynch (three goals) helped Richmond grind its way back into the contest.

Jack Riewoldt and comeback kid Jack Higgins also had late chances to snatch victory for the Tigers but could not convert their set shots late in the final term.

Players from both sides took a knee before the opening bounce in a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Coaches and support staff joined the united stand around the boundary line in a player-led initiative for the worldwide cause against systemic racism.

 

The match, which was broadcast live into the United States, wasn’t the most eye-catching example of the Australian game for sport-starved fans overseas.

But the contest was willing and Collingwood was the cleaner and neater of the two sides early, piling on four unanswered goals in the opening term to grab the early ascendancy.

The Pies dominated stoppages as Taylor Adams won six first-quarter clearances and their formation behind the ball forced Richmond to kick long.

The Tigers increased their work rate around the contest in the second term and Lynch finished off their hard work, kicking all three of his goals before half-time to reduce the deficit to 14 points.

They continued grinding away and when a review led to Higgins being paid a mark on the behind line, the energetic youngster marked his return to football with a goal from a tight angle to reduce the margin to two points.

It was Higgins’ first game in almost 12 months after he underwent brain surgery late last year.

Neither side managed a goal in a tense final quarter, with the final three behinds to Richmond levelling the scores.

-AAP