Carlton Can't Afford A Blue In Finals Race

Picture: Michael Klein/heraldsun.com.au
Jarrad Waite's inclusion beefs up Carlton's forward line. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/Michael Klein
Last Five Matches

Round 17, 2012 – Carlton 102 d Western Bulldogs 84 at Etihad Stadium
Round 16, 2011 – Western Bulldogs 96 d Carlton 69 at Etihad Stadium
Round 15, 2010 – Western Bulldogs 126 d Carlton 58 at Etihad Stadium
Round 5, 2009 – Carlton 133 d Western Bulldogs 90 at Etihad Stadium
Round 17, 2008 – Carlton 126 d Western Bulldogs 98 at Etihad Stadium


Form

     Rd 15       Rd 16       Rd 17       Rd 18       Rd 19   
Carlton    L  W  W  W  L
Western Bulldogs    W  L  L  W  L

Carlton , again, kept pace with a top four team on Saturday night but didn’t have the class to overrun Fremantle on Saturday night. The 36-point loss means the Blues may now have to rely on Essendon being docked points to play finals footy this season. Three times now Carlton has won three games in a row, but at no point have they been able to extend a winning run past that point.

There is no doubt this Western Bulldogs side is showing improvement on where it was mid-season. The ‘Dogs went down to Sydney by 35 points on Sunday, but in the previous month they’ve lost to Hawthorn by just 19 and Essendon by 31 in a match they could well have won. Throw in a 22-point victory over the Eagles and the ‘Doggies are in good enough form to post a couple more victories before their season comes to a close.

The Blues have been forced in to some changes with Matthew Kreuzer and Andrew Carrazzo out with calf injuries, while Kane Lucas and Mitch Robinson have been dropped. Key forward Jarrad Waite returns while tap ruckman Robbie Warnock is back in for Kreuzer. The Bulldogs have made three minor changes.


Key Men

(Blues) Heath Scotland – He has been a pillar in Carlton’s backline for a number of seasons, but after coming back from a club-imposed suspension earlier this season, Heath Scotland hasn’t reached anywhere the level of play Blues fans are used to. His last fortnight has been ultra-impressive, though, as he winds down to what could be his last few games in the AFL. After posting 33 possessions and 10 marks in the win on the Gold Coast, he backed that up with 31 touches and 12 marks against Fremantle. With the Bulldogs still struggling across half-forward, his playmaking skills could come to the fore.

(Bulldogs) Jarrad Grant – It took 15 weeks for Jarrad Grant to crack the Bulldogs’ top team and the inconsistent forward seems to be showing a modicum of consistency in his four-game stay in the AFL. He has picked up 16 or more possessions in matches against quality opposition, and he has kicked three goals in each of his past two games. The ‘Dogs are crying out for a forward target and Grant needs to keep giving the match committee reasons to pick him.


Prediction

Carlton has won and lost games in bunches this season, so the Blues will need to buck that trend this weekend if they’re to stay in finals contention. They’re 4-4 at Etihad Stadium this season, but it’s worth noting three of the Bulldogs’ five wins this year have come under the roof, and considering two of those were against fringe top eight sides Brisbane and West Coast, the young side seems to play its best footy in the artificial conditions. The Blues’ three-pronged small forward setup failed again last weekend with Eddie Betts, Jeff Garlett and Chris Yarran kicking just two goals between them. The week before they amassed six majors against Gold Coast in a win, while they kicked eight in the one-point triumph over North Melbourne. It’s just one area Mick Malthouse can improve his team over the off-season, however long or short it may be. Carlton by 19 points .

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