The 2018 AFL season is about to start up again and the now ‘traditional’ season opener, Richmond against Carlton, is going to be a classic match, and for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it will see the unfurling of Richmond’s 2017 premiership flag, the first time since 1981 they’ve done this, and there will be over 90,000 at the MCG to witness this event. But we need to ask: will the crowd be there to see Richmond, to see Carlton, to see the unfurling of the flag, or grab some warm beer and cold pies. Or even to see something else?
Although Richmond is the hot favourite to win this game, they need to be wary for a number of reasons. As is always the case in AFL, we need to look as history for some answers. Richmond caned Collingwood in the 1980 Grand Final by a record 81 point margin, and a extended run of premierships was predicted. In that first match of the season in 1981, Richmond played – who else – Carlton, and were walloped by 62 points, on their way to quite an average season and missing out on the finals altogether.
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Now, it must be pointed out that Carlton of 1981 was a different team to the one of today – aside from the obvious that it’s a completely different group of players – they ended up the premiers in 1981 and 1982. The Carlton of today is firmly ensconced at the bottom of the ladder and there’s not much prospect of success in 2018.
They have a young team that doesn’t set the world on fire, and lost Bryce Gibbs in a trade to Adelaide last year. It still is an up-and-coming team, and faces a harsh test against the 2017 premiers.
If you want to see an upset, the first round of the season is when it’s likely to happen. Richmond will be caught up in the emotion of their drought-breaking 2017 premiership, and we’re sure that Matthew Richardson, will shed some more tears when the premiership flag is hoisted up at the MCG just before the game commences.
Richmond will be without four of their premiership players – Bachar Houli, Dion Prestia, Daniel Rioli and Nathan Broad – due to injury and suspension, while Carlton will introduce Paddy Dow, Matt Kennedy, Aaron Mullett and Jarrod Garlett.
The 18 AFL teams have become more even, as we saw during the 2017 season, and a team that’s not on top of its game, even if it’s a drop of one or two per cent of output, is destined to become a losing team.
Or course, Carlton will show no sympathy at all, and will be keen to rain on Richmond’s parade and repeat their success from the opening round of 1981. It was a long long time ago, but we feel the success from yesteryear will influence this game, 37 years later.
Carlton to win, but only by a small margin. It won’t matter too much for the season though – it will give Richmond the jolt they’ll need to kick-start their season, and it will be one of the few highlights this year for Carlton.
- Round 14, 2017. Richmond 11.18 defeated Carlton 8.10.
- Eddy Jay: Carlton, 13 points
- Lintang Enam: Carlton, 11 points
- Computer says: Richmond, 47 points