Carlton have two games to stop the blues
Is the premiership window still open for Carlton? That’s a question that may well be answered in the next fortnight as the Blues’ top four hopes – if not season – go on the line.
After a half a dozen years in the wilderness there’d been some expectation in 2012 that the Blues would build on their three finals appearances over the last three years.
But with matches against Hawthorn and Collingwood in consecutive weeks, Carlton will need to shape up or risk falling two games off eighth spot.
The loss of reigning best and fairest Marc Murphy has hardly helped, the midfielder fracturing his shoulder in round eight against Adelaide. He won’t be back for another month.
With defender Jeremy Laidler (knee) also out for the rest of the season and Jarrad Waite (back) still on the mend, the Blues remain down on key personnel. Then there’s talisman Chris Judd. It’s fair to say he hasn’t quite been at his best.
Cut to Friday’s match at the MCG against Hawthorn and the signs aren’t exactly crash hot. Carlton have lost the past eight matches to the Hawks by an average of 40 points.
But a closer assessment of the form guide suggests this might not be as open and shut as the odds suggest.
The Blues’ last two losses have come at the hands of a few decent teams – West Coast (10 points) and Geelong (12 points). The Hawks have won their last three but their opposition wasn’t flash – Brisbane, Port Adelaide and North Melbourne.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson suggested as much, saying his side had been showing “good intent” but had to prove itself against finals-bound sides.
While there’s still no Luke Hodge for the Hawks the obvious key for Carlton is shutting down Lance Franklin.
`Buddy’ has bagged 22 majors in the last three matches and the success of the match-up on the two-time Coleman Medal winner will go a long way to determining this result.
And perhaps Carlton’s finals tilt as well.1,799 views