‘A lost opportunity’ but Voss, Hardwick find positives in season-opening draw

Carlton coach Michael Voss insists his Blues would have suffered a six-goal loss last year in the same circumstances they found themselves in on Thursday night.

In that sense, Voss found pride in Carlton’s season-opening draw with Richmond, where they had to overcome earning 21 fewer inside 50s and still went within seconds of starting the year with a victory.

A Tom Lynch goal with 17 seconds remaining locked both sides on 8.10(58) as an 88,084-strong MCG crowd walked away with the muted emotion of a stalemate.

Even Voss felt afterwards that an extra few minutes to try to find a winner would have been a better result.

“There’s a lot to be proud of, to be honest, then there are some other parts [where you think], ‘I wish I had that back’. Both sides had chances to win that game,” Voss said.

“It looked somewhat a different profile to what we’ve normally won games by, and that’s been by clearance dominance and a lot of forward-half ball.

Shai Bolton of the Tigers and Adam Saad of the Blues.Credit:Getty Images

“All those numbers were against us for most of the day, but what went our way was our effort and intensity across the whole game remained high, and so from a situation of a draw, you’ll probably walk away and think, ‘We should have won that’.

“But we would have had to win a completely different way to what we’ve been used to.

“We touched on that with the playing group at the end and that’s something to like – that’s a big like – because we’ve gone to work on a lot of those aspects of our game.”

Voss hailed ex-Bulldog Lewis Young’s display, which included 14 intercept possessions, but also his overworked defence as a whole. Knowing how under pressure they were throughout the night, he refused to be critical of their inability to deny Lynch in the game’s final minute.

At the same time, the Blues’ struggles to lock the ball in at their own offensive end will be analysed in depth ahead of next week’s huge clash with reigning premiers Geelong.

“There were moments where we had to hold for long periods of time,” Voss said.

“I think the number was 15 forward-half intercepts [for us], and they had 37, so that’s a lot of ball in your back half, and you can’t get out, so we have to go to work on that.

“But if you just look at the other side; it means we held, and we held tight, and I don’t think that’s been said a lot about us in the last little while, so I think that’s something we can take away and build on.”

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick, on the other hand, blamed a lack of polish for his team having to settle for a draw, in a game he felt was played on the Tigers’ terms.

“I sort of thought it looked like a Richmond game,” Hardwick said.

“I thought we had them pinned in the front half for the vast majority. We lacked polish … we had seven missed shots and four on the full and [missed] a couple of sodas.”

Hardwick, though, was positive about the fact that the Tigers had the game played in their attacking territory.

Carlton coach Michael Voss.Credit:AFL Photos

“We had 37 front-half turnovers, so our system was strong. Our pressure number was 1.88, which is elite. We were really happy with that part of our game. It was the fundamentals of the polish inside 50 that probably let us down.”

Hardwick was also upbeat about the Richmond debuts of Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto, the ex-Giants who crossed to Punt Road in the trade period.

“I thought they were both really good for us. Tim is different, obviously more of a transitional-type mid, so I think he had a huge impact tonight,” he said.

“‘Hopps’ is probably a little like Cripps. It was a high-stoppage game, but the stoppages were at the book-ends, not necessarily through the arcs.

“I thought he found the ball well – probably his execution [was lacking]; he was one of those guys who we’ll expect to get better along the way. He’s going to get better and better, as we know.

“Generally against Carlton, we get done in clearances. It was pretty much 50-50 from our point of view. We were really happy with that aspect of our game.”

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