Sports

Richmond v Carlton: AFL 2021 season opener – live!















































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QT: Richmond 3.3 (21) v 3.2 (20) Carlton













































































































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Opening bounce!


















































































Carlton 22 (+1)










Richmond 22 (+1)























































Preamble

Nights are drawing in, leaves are crinkling around the edges, and all anyone in Victoria is talking about is the footy. Say goodbye to summer and welcome home to another six months of the AFL ruling your life.

Round one gets underway tonight at the MCG with the now traditional season-opener between Richmond and Carlton. The opening bounce is scheduled for 7.25pm.

There is always mighty anticipation for this contest, but this year more than ever, with Victorian fans missing out on attending an entire season in 2020. The atmosphere in some parts of Melbourne have resembled grand final week as Tigers and Blues supporters rush to end, what for many, will be the longest match-going droughts of their football-supporting lives. For Richmond the experience will be further heightened, with the club unfurling both its 2019 and 2020 premiership flags concurrently.

That is a useful indicator of the balance of power between these two historic rivals. Richmond are the best in the business, and have been since collecting the first of three flags in four years in 2017. Dispiritingly for their competition, there is little indication there will be any drop-off this season with just two members of the most recent grand final victory not named in Damien Hardwick’s first 22 (or should that be 23?) of the new campaign. It’s not been a straightforward offseason for Hardwick, who faced scrutiny over his private life, but it would be typical of the bloody-mindedness of a modern football club to turn that to their advantage and foster the much sought-after siege mentality.

For the Blues it’s another clean slate and another chance to dream. After a long period of squad building it’s high time results started to follow. David Teague will not get an easy ride this season, and he will hope for more luck on the injury front. Key players missed a lot of minutes last year, and Carlton’s injury list is already concerning ahead of round one.

Because this is the opening match of the season we’re opening the blog much earlier than usual. Plenty of time to get through all the issues of the week, and for you to join in. You know how it works, emails to jonathan.howcroft.casual@theguardian.com and tweets to @JPHowcroft.

The AFL nostalgia is ripe for Wayne Peters and Scott Lee to reprise this on The Front Bar.

Updated





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