Essendon vs Carlton live scores and blog
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Bitter rivals with a point to prove prepare to take centre-stage in the showpiece game of Round 18. Join us tonight from 7pm for live AFL scores and a blog of Essendon versus Carlton from the MCG.
Both these teams entered season 2011 with high expectations. Essendon, led by club great James Hird, came off a blistering NAB Cup campaign with hopes of a return to finals football, while Carlton knew that if victory in September isn’t had then coach Brett Ratten will be packing his bags.
It was with these thoughts in mind that the football world turned its eyes to the MCG on a balmy Saturday in April for Round 4 action between the Blues and Bombers. And what a telling afternoon of football it was.
The Dons bounced out to a generous first-quarter lead but then disaster struck. Essendon lost Jason Winderlich and Courtenay Dempsey to season-ending knee injuries in the space of ten minutes.
The Blues came hard in the second half and looked to have sealed victory late in the final term when Jeff Garlett streamed into an open goal – hoping to extend Carlton’s lead to something unassailable – but a brilliant run-down tackle by the grandfather of current AFL footballers, Dustin Fletcher, saved Essendon’s day.
The Dons got away with a draw, the most courageous result achieved by a team wearing red and black in recent memory but it came at huge cost.
In the months after, while Carlton was setting itself up for a top-four assault, their northern rivals were struggling with both injuries and form.
By Round 13, the Bombers dropped not only outside of double-chance calculations, but outside of the eight. With guns like Jobe Watson, Heath Hocking, and Winderlich spending plenty of time on the sidelines, you would have been forgiven for thinking Essendon’s season was over.
But the Bombers come into tonight’s game still very much injury depleted but in very good form. In their last three matches they have come from behind to beat Geelong, Richmond and Adelaide.
While Essendon has stormed into the eight, Carlton has stalled in fourth position.
Their last month contains losses to West Coast (by 36 points), Western Bulldogs (27) and Collingwood (19). A 103-point win over Richmond is smacked right in the middle of those performances.
It is in an incredibly important match for both these teams. The Blues need to consolidate their position in fourth or risk having the Eagles take it away from them with a win in Sunday’s derby, while Essendon haven’t yet entrenched themselves in a finals position.
And when you look at the personnel both these teams are missing, wins at this time of the year are not only more difficult to achieve, but become so much more valuable when injured players return before finals.
The home side, Essendon, are without their captain Jobe Watson (who trained well during the week), Winderlich, Dempsey, Hocking (the only change from last week’s side, succumbing to ‘soreness’), Sam Lonergan, David Myers and Andrew Welsh.
Fletcher, who looks likely to play on next year, has been named for Essendon but there are reports he might be a late exclusion.
Carlton’s injury list is just as long. It contains the likes of Andrew Carrazzo, Shaun Hampson, Michael Jamison, Aaron Joseph, Jarrad Waite and Paul Bower.
But the most devastating news for Carlton fans emerged yesterday when it became clear that if Rebecca Judd, the wife of Chris, went into Labour today, the reigning Brownlow Medallist would attend hospital rather than the G.
With so many guns missing, the key for both coaching groups will be to exploit apparent deficiencies.
The Bombers obvious weakness lies in the midfield. Without Watson, Lonergan and Hocking the Bombers are going to be down their best three players (bar their ruckmen) at the clearances.
Carlton, without the likes of Jamison, Waite, Carrazzo and Bower lose two key defenders (Jamison and Waite, who can also play forward) and two of their better running defenders (Carrazzo, who can also tag, and Bower).
Waite’s absence is particularly critical for Carlton. It means that Henderson must play as a tall defender, leaving Carlton’s forward line, led by ruckman Matthew Kreuzer at Full-Forward, lacking a genuine key forward.
Tactically, this is going to be an interesting encounter.
Tonight I’m going to tip Essendon to win. This is an impossible game to predict but I liked the way the Bombers went about their business against Carlton in Round 4.
The Dons head into this match in good form, playing well without a host of stars in the last three weeks, and having beaten Carlton in six of the last eight encounters. Even though Carlton plays the MCG much better than their red and black opponents, I am going to predict a three-point Essendon win tonight.
B: Kyle Hardingham, Michael Hurley, Dustin Fletcher
HB: Dyson Heppell, Tayte Pears, Henry Slattery
C: Jake Melksham, Mark McVeigh, Brent Prismall
HF: Brent Stanton, David Hille, Angus Monfries
F: Stewart Crameri, Jake Carlisle, Leroy Jetta
Foll: Patrick Ryder, David Zaharakis, Ben Howlett
I/C: Ricky Dyson, Alwyn Davey, Kyle Reimers, Travis Colyer
Emg: David Myers, Tom Bellchambers, Michael Ross
In: Jake Carlisle
Out: Heath Hocking (Soreness).
B: Christopher Yarran, Lachlan Henderson, Jeremy Laidler
HB: Bryce Gibbs, Marcus Davies, Nick Duigan
C: Heath Scotland, Chris Judd, Dennis Armfield
HF: Kade Simpson, Bret Thornton, Jeffrey Garlett
F: Andrew Walker, Matthew Kreuzer, Eddie Betts
Foll: Robert Warnock, Mitch Robinson, Marc Murphy
I/C: David Ellard, Zach Tuohy, Edward Curnow, Wayde Twomey
Emg: Setanta O’hAilpin, Mark Austin, Kane Lucas
In: Dennis Armfield, Marcus Davies, Zach Tuohy
Out: Paul Bower (Calf), Aaron Joseph (Hamstring), Matthew Watson
Milestones: Kade Simpson – 150 games.
LAST TIME: Essendon 11.13 (79) drew with Carlton 11.13 (79), Rnd 4, 2011, MCG
PAST FIVE: Essendon 3 Carlton 1 draw 1
RECORD OVERALL: Essendon 110 Carlton 118 draw 5
AT THIS GROUND: Essendon 30 Carlton 21 draw 3
SINCE 2000: Essendon 14 Carlton 8
BETTING: Essendon $2.90 Carlton $1.40