Mick Malthouse has his first home game in charge of Carlton when the Blues take on Fremantle in week two of the 2013 NAB Cup. Join us for live scores and a blog from the first bounce at 7.40pm AEDT.
Carlton and Fremantle move into 2013 with premiership aspirations. The Blues are ready to make the leap into the top four under Malthouse, while Ross Lyon’s recruiting and coaching nous is expected to take the Dockers to another level this season.
While a NAB Cup match is usually an excuse for a pre-season hit-out, the competition often proves to be a valuable guide for early season form.
Most often teams that perform well in the NAB Cup continue their winning ways once the home and away fixtures begin.
Adelaide, the winners of the 2012 NAB Cup, proved this by making last September’s preliminary finals. Prior to the pre-season, the Crows were merely outsiders, so good form tonight could be an indication of things to come.
The Blues enter this clash off a six-day break. Last Sunday they beat both Sydney teams at Blacktown; the Giants by two points and Swans by 22.
But Malthouse was keen to play it down – he believes Carlton needs as many pre-season games as possible to adapt to his game plan before round one.
In that case, we can expect a strong team to be fielded by the Blues. At this stage, Jarrad Waite is their only notable player ruled out of this match.
Fremantle make their way to Melbourne after enjoying a week off. Two weekends back they beat Geelong by 18 points at Patersons Stadium before going down to the Eagles by four goals in a mini-Derby.
The Dockers will field a weakened team tonight. Matthew Pavlich wasn’t on the plane – he stayed in Perth to be with his pregnant wife who is due to give birth – while ruckman Aaron Sandilands (hamstring), speedster Steven Hill (arm) and on-baller Michael Barlow (rested) haven’t been selected.
I’m tipping the Blues to win tonight. Malthouse has admitted that pre-season games can’t be wasted and with Freo missing so many important players, Carlton should prove too strong.