North Melbourne vs Carlton: AFL live scores, blog
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Drew Petrie marks for North Melbourne (Slattery Images)
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North Melbourne and Carlton were expected to play finals in 2012 yet with only two months remaining in the season neither side is in the top eight. Join us from 7:30pm AEST tonight as we give live scores and commentary of this must-win clash from Docklands.
In one of the closest AFL seasons ever both the Kangaroos and the Blues have 7-7 records yet sit outside of the eight because of an inferior percentage to St Kilda who sit in eighth position.
Carlton won well last week against premiership heavyweights Collingwood and in doing so took the pressure off coach Brett Ratten who’s tenure has come under heavy scrutiny in recent weeks.
The Blues may not need to play in a Preliminary Final – which was their aim for 2012 before the season started – to save Ratten’s career but they need to win tonight because defeat against North could end Carlton’s season.
The Blues’ record at Docklands this year has been poor. They took three quarters to dispense of the lowly Giants before losing to St Kilda, Adelaide and Geelong at the inter-city venue.
Carlton’s record against North Melbourne also fails to inspire confidence. The Blues have won two of their last three clashes with North but those victories were by smaller margins than the bookies expected and they followed a string of six consecutive losses against the Roos.
Carlton will be buoyed by the selection of blue-chip midfielder Marc Murphy who’s been sidelined for several weeks with a shoulder injury but his return crosses out the loss of equally important midfielder Kade Simpson who had his jaw broken in a sickening incident against the Pies last week.
Key tall Lachie Henderson will strengthen the Blues spine but he replaces the injured and equally imposing Shaun Hampson.
If Carlton is to win tonight, they will require a big effort from their midfield and quick players. When the Blues lost to the Saints at Docklands a few months ago they were burnt by the speed of St Kilda while a week later, Adelaide’s toughness at the contests set-up an 69-point win at the same venue.
North Melbourne come into this match needing victory just as much as Carlton but will feel less pressure than the Blues for three reasons: they carry in slightly better form, aren’t favourites to win the match and know they have a soft run home into September.
I thought the Roos were outstanding against St Kilda two weeks ago. They blew the Saints off the park with quick, attacking football from defence. North Melbourne’s execution under pressure in the last quarter was undoubtedly the highlight.
They followed that victory with a creditable two-point loss to West Coast in Hobart last week after leading by more than two goals at the last change.
North are on their second-consecutive six-day break and it is concerning because the Roos often haven’t finished their matches strongly this season. And on the quick back-up they could tire as they did in similar circumstances last week.
But North Melbourne will take confidence from their record at Docklands (5-2 in 2012) and their good form against the Blues.
North are often criticised for their heavy reliance on Brent Harvey and Daniel Wells but in recent weeks their youngsters have stepped up to help carry the load. Their midfield runs deep.
Brad Scott makes one change for this clash; Scott Thompson slots into the defence at the expense of the omitted Luke Delaney.
Each time I’ve seen North play at Etihad Stadium this season they’ve impressed me and for that reason I’ll tip a 12 point win for the Roos tonight.
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