Thu, Mar 24, 10:36am by Kevin Pitstock
When and Where:
7.40pm at MCG
Carlton – 119
Richmond – 84
Draws – 2
When an AFL player is out-of-form or in need of a break on the field, they often head to the half-back line. And over the off-season, Chris Yarran has made that move and immensely impressed the AFL world. His best performance came against the Crows in a NAB Challenge match, gathering a well-complied 22 disposals. His skill, creativity and poise off half-back will not only be crucial to the Blues’ chances tonight, but also for the entire 2011 season.
Trent Cotchin endured his first full pre-season since entering the AFL and is set for a breakout season. In his two NAB Challenge matches, the silky midfielder racked up 23 and 28 disposals respectively, ranking him number one at Richmond. Cotchin is one of the most attractive players to watch in the game. He is injury free and heading into his fourth season, so expect him to turn it up a couple of notches this season.
After two elimination final exists in the past two years, the Blues will be desperate for improvement in 2011. They are a proud club who have a successful history and a wealth of supporters who have massive expectations on them for the upcoming season.
Carlton’s current playing list has been developing together for a good three to four years now and the time has come for them to take the next step. Players like Bryce Gibbs, March Murphy, Yarran and Mitch Robinson all need to step it up and support skipper Chris Judd in their bid to win a final in 2011.
You’ve got to love how the Tigers go about their business. Led by a professional and charismatic coach in Damien Hardwick, the playing list is almost stuck in a positive mentality, which will only bode well for the future years.
However Richmond’s pre-season was ordinary to say the least and certainly nothing to gloat about. The Tigers lost both NAB Cup games to Carlton and Collingwood by significant margins, and then suffered a ‘soul destroying’ – in the words of coach Hardwick – 68-point NAB Challenge loss to Adelaide. Yes they’re a proud club with a great attitude to the game, but they’re still a long way off finals contention.
Carlton has won the past two opening round encounters over the Tigers by an average of 70 points. However Richmond did win the inaugural opening round clash in 2008, when club legend Matthew Richardson starred with five goals. However Richo isn’t there anymore and Jack Riewoldt won’t be able to do it all himself.
The Blues’ classy midfield should be way too strong for Richmond. While the Tigers do have an impressive on-ball brigade in Cotchin, Dustin Martin and the returning Nathan Foley, they are not as well developed as what the likes of Gibbs, Murphy, Scotland and Judd are.
Although it may be a little closer than previous seasons, expect the Blues to win this opening round clash quite comfortably.
Suggested Head-To-Head Bet:
Carlton by 1-39 ($2.20 – Sportingbet Australia)
Also Sportingbet Australia are doing a first goal scorer special on the AFL, on top of the usual first goal scorer payout. If your first goal scorer bet scores the second goal, the guys at Sportingbet will pay you out as well! If he kicks the first two, they will pay you double! Get on!
First Goal Scorer:
Eddie Betts ($10.00 – Sportingbet Australia)
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