Carlton back in the AFL finals hunt
Andrew Walker and Eddie Betts celebrate (Slattery Images)
Carlton’s 96-point thumping of Essendon has put the Blues just one game outside the top eight with two rounds remaining.
Currently sitting in ninth spot with 44 points and a percentage of 110.5, the Blues will play the Gold Coast on Saturday night followed by St. Kilda to round out the home and away season.
Carlton should comfortably defeat the Suns and will be hoping that North Melbourne can defeat Fremantle at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The Dockers are currently in eighth spot on ladder after defeating Richmond on the weekend. Fremantle are on 48 points with a percentage of 109.6.
The Kangaroo’s will go into their match as favourites after securing a finals berth with a huge win over Collingwood last Saturday night.
Should the results come in as expected, Carlton will return to the top eight with one game remaining.
The Blues were as dominant on Saturday against Essendon as they have been all season. Aside from the opening 10 minutes, the Bombers never looked in the game. The Blues had more disposals, marks, tackles and contested possessions.
A melee broke out at quarter time that added some extra spark and lead to a 10-goal second quarter from Carlton.
The Bombers were undisciplined at times, giving away two 50 metre penalties which resulted in goals.
Every Carlton goal kicker registered more than one major with Jarrad Waite kicking five and a further five players kicking three.
Rookie Levi Casboult kicked a remarkable goal during the second quarter and continued to provide a key target up forward alongside Waite.
Marc Murphy continued his brilliance since returning from injury with 37 disposals. Bryce Gibbs collected 28, Brock McLean and Kade Simpson both had 27 and kicked three goals.
Captain Chris Judd had 23 in his return from a four match suspension.
The only injury concern was with midfielder Andrew Carrazzo, who was subbed out at three quarter time with a hamstring complaint.
The Blues are still without key defenders Michael Jamieson, Jeremy Laidler and Lachie Henderson as well as ruckman Shaun Hampson.
Carlton will now look to build on their percentage against the Suns on Saturday night.
The win on Saturday reaffirms that coach Brett Ratten is the right person for the job.
After being criticised mid-season for the Blues poor form and having his suitability for the role questioned by several commentators, Ratten and his team have won five of their last seven contests.