But Rance wasn’t chaired from the ground. Instead he had to be helped off the ground by trainers after landing awkwardly in defence late in the third term. Having gone down, Rance clutched at his right knee. Taken down the race, he didn’t re-emerge until midway through the final term, with his knee heavily iced. It didn’t look promising.
Ruckman Toby Nankervis was outstanding for Richmond, while former Sydney dasher Nic Newman was influential for the Blues.
It could barely have been scripted better. Only a couple of minutes into the game, and up soared Jack Riewoldt in a pack at full-forward. Riewoldt couldn’t pluck it, but there waiting at the back was Lynch, able to take a simple mark. The former Gold Coast co-captain, playing in front of the biggest crowd of his career, duly went back and kicked the opening goal of the season with his first kick as a Tiger. Minutes later debutant Noah Balta took advantage of a 50 metre penalty to match Lynch’s effort with a first-kick major. Former Sun and Saint Maverick Weller – the third of Richmond’s new players – also had a chance for an early goal but sprayed his shot.
Another tasty snag
Few players make a first-season impression like Jack Higgins did last year. The chirpy and at-times hilarious Higgins became a cult hero, and a seriously handy player for Richmond. His controversial over-the-head major against Collingwood late in the season earned him goal of the year honours. Early indications suggest we are in for plenty more fun from the former Caulfield Grammar boy. He kicked a pair of first half goals, producing what is likely to be an early nomination for another goal of the year gong. With his side paid a free kick deep in the forward pocket in the second term, Higgins took matters into his own hands, taking the advantage and finding the slender opening between the big sticks.
Jack jolted by Jones
It was a mixed night for Riewoldt in his 250th game. He looked to be in a world of pain during the second quarter after being bumped off-the-ball in the middle of the ground by Blues defender Liam Jones. The contact wasn’t high, and Riewoldt wasn’t concussed, but the incident is still expected to draw attention from match review officer Michael Christian. Jack’s cousin Nick wasn’t impressed while commentating on SEN. “When you’re 30 metres off the ball, you can’t have somebody bumping you like that, even if it’s not head high,” said the St Kilda great. Jack made his own presence felt during the third term though, rising over Jones to take a speccy, from which the reigning Coleman Medallist kicked his first goal of 2019.
Young and old
Having worked diligently to get back in the game, the match was threatening to get away from Carlton midway through the third term, with Richmond getting back out to a 26-point lead. But the Blues wouldn’t relent. After a somewhat cumbersome build-up, No. 1 draft pick Sam Walsh handballed to 250-gamer Marc Murphy, who snapped truly in a moment to savour for the Carlton faithful.