Australia

Ablett, Vlastuin hurt in dramatic opening to AFL grand final

The historic AFL grand final under lights at the Gabba began in dramatic fashion with Geelong and Richmond players felled and intruders on the ground.

There were initial fears Gary Ablett's farewell game could have been over in the opening minutes after he landed awkwardly on his left shoulder.

This came as play was halted for seven-and-a-half minutes after Tigers defender Nick Vlastuin was flattened by Patrick Dangerfield and taken from the field on a stretcher.

Ablett, in his 357th and final match before retiring, was injured after he was tackled by Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin. He was in immediate pain and left the field, sending shockwaves around the ground. But the player they call the 'Little Master' returned to the field before the end of the quarter with the shoulder heavily strapped to huge applause from Cats fans.

Vlastuin was elbowed in the head by Dangerfield after the Cat had punched a loose ball clear. He lay motionless but showed signs of a recovery when he left the field by taking the tape off his wrist. He was later seen walking around in the dressing room but his night was over.

Dangerfield wasn't reported but the incident will be scrutinised by the match review officer.

The Tigers had more worries when Nathan Broad was helped from the field after a heavy clash in a marking contest but was given the all clear to resume.

If that wasn't enough, play was halted momentarily late in the term after two intruders jumped the fence and had to be wrestled to the ground by security guards.

The Tigers booted the opening two goals but the Cats clawed their way back to hold a one-point lead at the first change.

More to come.

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