It seemed to take the longest time, but here we were at last. On the MCG in a proper jumper playing the filth for premiership points. Magnificent. And 150 games for a wonderful servant of the club and the community, Bachar Houli.
Carlton are dead ordinary, but that was a better than par result for me. Great first half – then we lost momentum but regained it without going to pieces. We made the most of the last quarter junk time to just sneak the percentage up a bit. No injuries. And the newbies all played well. Terrific. Considering we lost our last match by 113 points, I think the club have every right to be happy with the first test of their off-season changes. More than a third of Thursday’s side weren’t out there in round 23 2016.
The style was positive, fast and risk-taking. I loved it. We were whipping the handpasses around in the first half and hardly missed one; although under modest pressure. Brandon Ellis looks refreshed and ready to go. Taylor Hunt will never be faultless but he played his role and I won’t be howling if he holds his place. Conca made a solid return. Getting ‘OK’ games from those three is another small good sign of improvement. Cotchin kicked a goal from a set shot. Rioli sparkled and nailed a couple of goals. Caddy was pretty quiet but will be famous forever for finishing off the Dusty barrel. Nankervis was more than useful. We had 13 goalkickers!
5 Benny votes and 3 Brownlow votes go to Dusty, who was just awesome. Carlton weren’t to know he would be ON, otherwise they might have ganged up on him earlier. Collingwood are forewarned and he won’t have so much room to move next week. I loved his direct approach – only one don’t argue and it produced a goal. No whingeing here.
4 votes go to Shaun Grigg who is right up there in the AFL’s underrated footballers. 27 touches six tackles and a goal. He accumulates and rarely wastes it.
3 votes for George Castagna who was a livewire from the opening bell. He got ahead of himself attempting a Stevie J; he missed and our momentum ebbed away. He will learn from it – you don’t give anyone an even break, let alone the Blues.
2 votes for Dan Butler. Two goals of his own and a lot of score involvements. I was hugely impressed with his quick thinking and vision in possession. He might be the New Sheds. Sorry, Old Sheds.
1 vote for Dion Prestia, who had a great night in his new jumper. His gut running was super-impressive and earned him a goal late in the game.
The Benny Leaderboard:
Blair Hartley Appreciation Award: for players who have joined Richmond from another club
(Eligible 2017: Caddy, Grigg, Hampson, Houli, Hunt, Nankervis, Maric, Miles, Prestia and Townsend.)
Anthony Banik Best First Year Player: for anyone who was yet to debut before round 1
(Eligible 2017: Shai Bolton, Dan Butler, Ryan Garthwaite, Jack Graham, Ivan Soldo, Tyson Stengle)
Butler : 2
Joel Bowden’s Golden Left Boot: for left footers
(Eligible 2017: Batchelor, Chol, Corey Ellis, Grigg, Nankervis and Houli).
Greg Tivendale Rookie List Medal:
upgraded from the rookie list during the current season
Potentially eligible 2017: Castagna, Chol, Moore, Stengle and Soldo.
Maurice Rioli Grip of Death Trophy:
The club’s top tackler, across AFL and VFL teams