Chris Judd makes his long awaited return from injury on Friday. Picture: George Salpigtidis/theaustralian.com.au
Carlton v Hawthorn
Friday June 13 – 7:50 PM (AEST)
Hawthorn and Carlton clash at the MCG on Friday night in a match that could define their AFL seasons.
Carlton head into this match as one of the most inconsistent teams in the competition. Everytime the Blues run out onto the pitch, you wonder what side is going to come out. They played some decent footy last weekend against Geelong but fell agonisingly short with Joel Sellwood putting the Cats in front with a minute left to play. The long awaited return of champion midfielder Chris Judd is well and truly near, with the dual Brownlow medallist expected to feature in the Blue’s line-up on Friday night. Judd has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since round five but is available for selection after getting through a VFL match for the Northern Blues last week. His return will hopefully add some stability to the side, who are coming off back-to-back losses and desperate for a win.
The Blues will have to put on their best display this weekend if they are to come away with a win, with Hawthorn seemingly over a mid-season hiccup. After back-to-back losses at the hands of Sydney and Port, followed by an uninspired five point win over lowly GWS, the Hawks were back to their best last week against West Coast. Jarryd Roughead boosted his goal tally to 30 for the season with a clinical eight-goal haul against the Eagles. The forward’s performance helped his team on the way to a 44-point win and build some much needed confidence within the team. They were strong last week and the Hawks will only look to get stronger this weekend with a host of big names expected to return. Key defenders Brian Lake and Ben Stratton are set to bolster the backline, while Ben McEvoy and David Hale are expected to return to the starting side from corked legs.
Carlton were a bit unlucky to leave the Etihad Stadium empty handed last week, and it their luck doesn’t get much better with the Hawks finally close to full strength. Hawthorn should win this game comfortably, but if the Blues put in another solid shift and they catch the Hawks off-guard, we could be in for an upset.