North Melbourne v Carlton

Picture: George Salpigtidis/
Chris Judd could be nearing his best form again. Picture: George Salpidtidis/
North Melbourne  and Carlton  are two of the five sides locked in a race for the final place in the top eight and the winner of this clash will boost their chances of playing finals football in 2012 significantly. The Kangaroos blew a 35 point lead against the high flying Eagles last weekend, but lost no admirers with their performance against the competition leaders. Carlton returned to form last Friday night, with their win over Collingwood ending the Magpies nine game winning streak. It was also just the second win for the Blues since the start of May. The win came at a cost however, with Kade Simpson and Shaun Hampson both suffering serious injuries.

Where It Will be Won – It was no coincidence that Carlton’s improved showing last weekend came about in the same match that Chris Judd  returned to form. The dual Brownlow medallist collected 32 possessions and affected seven clearances against Collingwood for his best return since round three. Andrew Carrazzo  and Bryce Gibbs were able deputies to Judd last weekend and with Marc Murphy  returning, the Blues engine room could finally be getting back into top gear. At Etihad Stadium, they will have to be at the top of their game to stop the likes of Andrew Swallow  and Liam Anthony  giving the Kangaroos the run through midfield which has troubled their opponents in recent weeks.

Prediction – There hasn’t been much to separate these sides in their past four meetings, with both clubs win two games apiece, with the last three particularly tight. It is hard to envisage their being much between the clubs again here, but North Melbourne have fewer injuries and have been playing more consistently in recent times. North Melbourne 1-39

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