K rock Football

Tigers hold off Blues at wet MCG

PREMIERSHIP hero Jack Graham has booted four goals to help Richmond to consolidate its spot in the AFL’s top four with a 28-point win over old rivals Carlton.

Sunday’s 11.7 (73) to 6.9 (45) wet-weather victory at the MCG cements the Tigers’ status as the form team of the competition heading into the finals.

Since their mid-season bye, Damien Hardwick’s men have won seven-straight games and averaged more than 100 points per match.

Their latest triumph came despite the absence of superstar midfielder Dustin Martin, who was ruled out with unspecified “soreness”.

The hard-fought nature of the win was underscored by the fact Carlton easily won the contested possession count and pulled to within three goals during the final term.

But, after losing last week to premiers West Coast, the Blues again battled out of their weight division against a classier opponent.

Relishing the rain that fell from the opening bounce, the Tigers booted the first six goals and were poised to hold Carlton to a goalless first half until Matthew Kreuzer pounced on a rare turnover on the stroke of halftime.

The Blues fought their way back into the game in the third term, led by former skipper Marc Murphy who had 12 touches and a goal for the quarter.

But the Tigers drew first blood in the final term, courtesy of Jack Riewoldt’s pack mark and goal, and had the answers for everything Carlton threw at them.

Having famously booted three goals as a first-year player in the 2017 grand final, Tigers hard nut Graham again stood tall on the big stage.

Each of his four majors came within an inspired 20-minute burst either side of quarter-time that opened up the scrappy contest.

The 20-year-old also laid 14 tackles, had 22 disposals and played an important role manning up on Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps at the stoppages.

Cripps (37 touches) still managed to find plenty of the ball, while Kreuzer controlled the ruck battle against Toby Nankervis in their respective returns from injury.

Richmond milestone man Shane Edwards was typically influential in his 250th AFL game, gathering 27 disposals and slotting a superb goal on the run.

The brilliant utility had 12 touches and three contested marks in the first quarter alone.

© AAP 2019

RICHMOND 3.2 6.4 8.6 11.7 (73)

CARLTON 0.2 1.6 4.6 6.9 (45)

Goals: Richmond: J Graham 4 J Riewoldt 2 T Lynch 2 J Caddy J Castagna S Edwards. Carlton: M McGovern 2 L Casboult M Gibbons M Kreuzer M Murphy.

Best: Richmond: J Graham D Prestia S Edwards N Vlastuin B Houli D Astbury. Carlton: P Cripps M Murphy D Thomas E Curnow.

Umpires: Robert Findlay, Curtis Deboy, Alex Whetton.

Official Crowd: 51,039 at MCG.