Carlton has won a classic against Richmond at the MCG, edging out the injury-hit Tigers 12.14 (86) to 12.9 (81).

In a game that featured 10 lead changes, with the two-rivals going goal-for-goal throughout a tremendous third quarter, the Blues just held on to claim a thrilling victory to back up their one-point win against Brisbane in Opening Round.

The Blues controlled the contest for long periods but wastefulness in front of goal — and some superb desperation from the injury-ravaged Tigers defence — kept Richmond in the game.

Shai Bolton had a chance right at the death to seal a dramatic late winner for the Tigers, but was unable to claim the ball cleanly amidst a melee in front of the posts.

“It’s good to know we can hold on to it and get the job done in the end,” Carlton defender Tom de Koning told ABC Sport. 

“We had Charlie [Curnow] behind the ball and he had some really big plays at the end there … We just trust our players to do their jobs.”

Of Carlton’s last six victories, all six have been won by a goal or less stretching back to round 22 last season.

Richmond — coming off a five-day break since losing to the Suns — led at every change, by 11 points at quarter-time, a single point at half-time and then eight points heading into the final quarter.

Harry McKay kicked three goals for the Blues, with Noah Balta matching him for the Tigers in impressive performances.

Pat Cripps stood tall with 31 disposals for the Blues, while tall midfielder Mitch McGovern (26 disposals) also starred. 

The Tigers fought valiantly in front of 83,881 supporters after losing three players to injury in the match, including young defender Josh Gibcus to a suspected ACL injury in the first half.

Josh Gibcus holds his head as he is stretchered off

Josh Gibcus is likely to have suffered an ACL injury(Getty Images: AFL Photos/Dylan Burns)

The 20-year-old went down in a marking contest late in the second quarter and clutched at his right knee before being stretchered off.

“Obviously there’ll be scans, but it’s not looking great at the moment,” Tigers coach Adem Yze said of Gibcus.

“We’re touching all the wood we can that we get lucky with it. But if it is what we think it is, or could be, it would be obviously gut-wrenching.

“Not only the season he had last year, but just the type of player and the type of character he is. I feel for him so we’ll wrap our arms around him.”

The Tigers had earlier lost veteran Dion Prestia, who was subbed off with a hamstring injury at quarter-time, and later lost Tylar Young to concussion in the third term.

“For them to show some grit, stay in the game, we lost our way last week … but I thought to their credit, we couldn’t be more proud of our players,” Yze said.

“To lose two key defenders by half time, let alone Dion, a leader of our football club … we’re super proud of them.”

There may be questions asked of the Tigers relating Young’s head knock, with the defender not immediately being removed from the field of play to have a test conducted on the 25-year-old.

Yze said Young only started feeling concussion symptoms at half-time.

“To lose two guys close to 200cm is always gunna be tough to cover,” Yze said.

“We threw the magnets around but more to the players credit, they executed and we almost come away with the win.”

Dustin Martin (two goals, 15 disposals), Toby Nankervis (19 disposals, eight clearances) and star forward Tom Lynch (two goals, 10 touches) all returned and made a key difference to the Tigers side that were humbled by the Suns without them last week.

Lynch kicked the Tigers’ first two goals on his first start since round four last year, but was made to play far more than coach Yze would have hoped on his first start since early 2023.

But with the Tigers now facing a tough backlog of injuries and a tough clash against Port Adelaide next week, that might be the least of Yze’s worries.

Look back on how all the action unfolded in our live blog.

Key events

What a cracker

Well, we’ll leave things there for now.

Thanks for being with us this evening.

What a way to start the footballing weekend.

There’s plenty more to come, both on ABC Radio and on the ABC Sport website.

Remember, ABC Sport will be live blogging every round of the AFL and NRL seasons in 2024, so make sure you join us tomorrow for more action.

I can’t promise it will all be as nail-biting as that – but it could be.

Thanks for being with us, we’ll catch you next time.

They are making a good case for it

There’s a very good reason why Carlton Richmond open the season each year.

– Chris

It would be remiss of me not to mention that the first round was last week – but yes, in term of Round 1, that was a good one.

Six Carlton wins in a row by a goal or less

Carlton’s last six wins

  • Rd 22 vs Melbourne, 4 points
  • Rd 23 vs Gold Coast, 4 points
  • Elimination Final vs Sydney, 6 points
  • Qualifying Final vs Melbourne, 2 points
  • Opening Round vs Brisbane, 1 point
  • Round 1 vs Richmond, 5 points

That’s some record in tight contests.

Winning is a habit, I guess.

What a thrilling game to kick off Round 1

Thankyou Simon, such a close and exciting game to enjoy! and your commentary is wonderful company, much appreciated, regards Christine

– Christine

Well, if that’s not a great way to start your weekend then I don’t know what is.

Thanks for being with me Christine!


(Getty Images)

A genuine thriller at the G!

The Blues are jubilant after a sixth win in a row by a goal or less – the shattered Tigers are in pieces, having fought so hard with so few players.

A terrific crowd has been treated by an absolute thriller.

The Tigers had a chance right at the end, Shai Bolton almost smashing home only to fail to get boot on ball.

It was not meant to be – the Blues were not at their best in truth, but they are now 2-0 to start the season.

A terrific contest.

17 seconds to go

The Tigers have the ball inside the Blues 50 but the Blues work a stoppage.

Nobody can get a clear shot at the ball!

Attendance at the MCG, 83,881

(Getty Images)

And they are as enthralled by what they’re seeing at the moment as if this were a finals match.

What a classic.

The music is about to stop

Enjoying the close game, just as long as the blues are in front when the music stops…

– Mike

And the Blues have the territory with the ball in the Tigers defensive 50.

But not for long…

Dylan Grimes saves a goal!

With a despairing dive like he’s down a third man chasing a boundary!

He dives full stretch towards the goalsquare and smothers the ball over the line for a behind.

It’s a five-point game with two minutes to go.

One kick in it!

Five minutes to go – anyone’s game!

Wow, the Tigers are coming back all of a sudden. They’re still in the game, incredibly, and are winning those 50:50 battles again.

The Blues are trying to work their way out but the Tigers work the mistake and come forward again!

Only a Brodie Kemp intercept mark in the goalsquare stopped the Tigers from taking the lead there.

The Tigers are still alive!

Oh how have they managed that!

How has this battered, beaten, Richmond side got the ball forward and scored with their first attacking raid in what feels like an age?!

The Blues have been all over the Tigers in the last 10 minutes, but Rioli gets the ball forward, Dustin Martin found Seth Campbell, who grubbered the ball through.

(Getty Images)

They’re back within a kick!

Brilliant from the Blues! But still no end result!

Richmond were given no time at all and turned the ball over trying to clear their defensive 50.

The Blues swarm and kick the ball central to Jordan Boyd, who slid to take a brilliant mark 35 metres out.

However, he sprayed the ball wide.

The margin is 11 – there is eight minutes to go.

Nick Vlastuin with a brilliant goal-saving tackle!

Loading Twitter content

Charlie Curnow took a great mark in the goal square and played on, but Nick Vlastuin flew in and made a brilliant tackle to stop a goal.

The goal review is having a look, but there is insufficient evidence to overturn the on-field call of behind.


That’s desperation from Richmond.

(Getty Images)

Carlton lead by 10 points with 11 minutes to go


That’s brilliant from Carlton.

They brought the pressure to Shai Bolton, turned the ball over and they fired the ball forward to Curnow, who took a brilliant contested mark.

He can’t split the big posts though so the lead is just 10.

Three in a row for the Blues!

(Getty Images)

From eight points down, Adam Cerra puts the Blues nine-points in front with a kick around the corner.

It came from enormous amounts of pressure on the Tigers inside their defensive 50 and now those absences are telling. Now the fatigue is setting in.

Can the Tigers hit back one more time?

Blues hit the front!

Liam Baker gives away 50 on Tom de Koning – it’s unfortunate really, Baker just bumped into De Koning after the Blues kuckman took a great intercept mark.

He was given 50 and powered the ball through the uprights to put the Blues back in front.

Suddenly, after not being in control and not making the most of their opportunities, the Blues are rocking and rolling.

All of a sudden, it sounds like there are 80,000 plus inside the MCG – and all of them are in Navy Blue.


(Getty Images)

Shame this one didn’t stick for Brodie Kemp.

Blues back to within three!

Matty Owies draws a free kick by making a Richmond player run through his back.

He makes no mistake from the set shot and scores his second.

And he is fired up! The lead for Richmond is now three points.

It’s anyone’s game.

(Getty Images)

Lynch with a bad miss

Tom Lynch had a chance to put Richmond into a game-high lead of 14, but badly skewed his shot wide.

Adem Yze said pre-game that he didn’t want Lynch to play huge minutes.

He’s having to though – and was that just a little bit of fatigue from the returning forward?

Can the Tigers hold on?

Reckon the Tigs will run out of gas?

– Jumping’ Jack flash

I don’t see how they can hold on – but at the moment they are surpassing expectations.

This is, needless to say, a huge quarter.

Sports content to make you think… or allow you not to. A newsletter delivered each Friday.