A great contest launches Round 12 of the AFL season as Carlton and Hawthorn do battle from Etihad Stadium. Live scores and commentary coming up from 7.50pm AEST.
This is a massive game for both teams for differing reasons.
For Carlton a loss tonight could see them out of the top eight by the end of the round, but a win would see them stay in touch with a vital top-four spot.
At Hawthorn, a win keeps them near the top, but a loss could send them back in that mix of teams fighting for a top-four spot.
Undoubtedly the history suggests Hawthorn of late should win this and comfortably – the Hawks winning the last nine games against Carlton with an average margin of 41 points.
And it’s been part of a solid period for the Hawks in their history, while Carlton have bottomed out and seen many changes to their group on and off the field.
Tonight’s the chance for Carlton to show their true colours, in the same way they did last week against Essendon.
The Blues should not have let that game slip against the Bombers, but it may prove that they’re not quite mentally ready for that next step, despite some big name players like Judd, Murphy, Simpson and Scotland.
Jarrad Waite’s seven goal haul wasn’t enough for the Blues to get over the line. While it’s great to have a dominant forward, they still need a share of goal kickers, so they’ll need their midfield army and the small forwards to lift their rate.
The long-awaited return of Andrew Carrazzo from a calf injury could happen tonight, while a bit more height is expected with Robert Warnock’s knee injury given the all clear.
The Hawks have been the most consistent team of the season.
Take away the narrow loss to their old foes Geelong, and Hawthorn is undefeated with a monstrous percentage.
If there’s a slight concern coming into this game, is possibly the week off – will the Hawks keep the same intensity that’s seen them get to the top off the bye?
Also, the Hawks last three weeks have been on the easy-side. Including the bye, there’s been a game against an improving yet still youthful Gold Coast Suns and the bottom of the table GWS Giants.
Tonight could see the return of Brendan Whitecross from a knee reconstruction, while the height of both Max Bailey and Jack Gunston will come under consideration as well.
Expect some flow to the game, but there should be plenty of contested ball throughout the night. If the Blues get on top in that battle, they may just give the Hawks a few headaches tonight.