'Absolute carnage': AFL grand final rocked by 'sickening' scenes

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Pictured here, Nick Vlastuin is attended to by medical staff after being knocked out.
Nick Vlastuin had to leave the Gabba on a stretcher after being knocked out in a hit by Patrick Dangerfield. Pic: Getty

Geelong champion Gary Ablett and Richmond defender Nick Vlastuin were early casualties in the AFL grand final after being injured in an explosive opening five minutes.

Ablett, playing his 357th and final match, hurt his left shoulder in a tackle from Tigers captain Trent Cotchin and was helped off the Gabba ground by trainers, clearly in pain.

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Moments earlier in the same passage of play, Vlastuin was hit in the head by a high elbow from Patrick Dangerfield.

Seen here, Gary Ablett lies in pain on the ground at the Gabba.
Gary Ablett looked in a lot of pain after injuring his shoulder less than five minutes into the grand final. Pic: Getty

The fairytale grand final send-off for Ablett turned into a nightmare during a chaotic first quarter of Saturday night's decider against Richmond.

Ablett lasted less than five minutes before having to come from the field after injuring his shoulder in a tackle from Tigers captain Trent Cotchin.

The Cats veteran appeared to land awkwardly after being brought down by Cotchin in a smothering tackle.

He immediately grabbed at his shoulder with pain etched across his face as commentators and viewers held their breath.

Ablett looked devastated as he was whisked off the ground by a trainer, with his arm in a sling.

In a crazy start to the grand final, Richmond's Nick Vlastuin also had to be taken from the ground after copping a huge hit from Patrick Dangerfield.

Both players were contesting the footy but Vlastuin was knocked out cold after colliding with the Geelong superstar.

The Cats star punched a contested ball and made high contact with Vlastuin in the same motion.

Vlastuin lay motionless for several minutes before being taken off the ground on a stretcher.

The shocking injuries left fans rocked on social media.

Ablett returns after treatment

After going back to the sheds momentarily for some treatment, Ablett came back to the sidelines before rejoining the fray late in the opening term.

The dual Brownlow medallist has achieved everything there is to in his 356 AFL matches since debuting way back in 2002.

As well as his pair of Brownlows, the 36-year-old has picked up two premiership medals, eight All-Australian blazers, six club best and fairest awards and five Leigh Matthews trophies.

He and Selwood are the only Cats players that took to the field on Saturday who were a part of the club's 2007 grand-final triumph - a victory that ended a 44-year premiership drought.

The Cats' skipper denied Ablett's final game was any extra motivation for his team however.

"That's no disrespect to him but Gaz came out at the start of the year, basically, and allowed everyone, the football world, to know that this is our last one," he said.

"Hopefully I speak of everyone, but we've celebrated him the right way.

"And, yeah, it would be lovely to see him up there, receiving a medal at the end of the day."

with AAP