Port Adelaide vs Carlton: Friday Night Forecast

Ryan Buckland Columnist

By Ryan Buckland, Ryan Buckland is a Roar Expert

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    An unusually low profile Friday night this week, as the Port Adelaide Power host the Carlton Blues. Neither team made the top eight last year, making it one of two such Friday night match ups.

    No matter, it shapes as an interesting game.

    Last year doesn’t matter much now – the fans of a dozen teams will tell you that. Still, seeing Port Adelaide and Carlton on a Friday night when the fixture was released last year seemed to stick out among the sea of Sydney, Western Bulldogs, Adelaide and Geelong outings.

    Maybe it’s the recent history between the two sides: their past two meetings have been in Carlton’s favour by two and four points, respectively. If we stretch the time series out a little more, there’s been a third super-close game in the pair’s last five: a one point win to Carlton in what was the last game at Football Park in 2013.

    To more pressing matters. Port Adelaide have managed their way to a 2-2 start despite what looked like a horrid first four, winning against the Swans and Fremantle before running into the two best teams in the competition in Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney.

    There is no shame in losing to the latter teams – they have one loss between the two of them, and that only came because they played each other in Round 1.

    The signs are very good. Port Adelaide were well in the hunt in both of their losses, a 31 point margin against the Giants coming solely in the last quarter, and some wayward kicking arguably the death blow against the Crows in the final quarter.

    The Power is back on, and finals look a distinct possibility, given Port are yet to face any team in the bottom six, and they’ve got two of them (Collingwood and Brisbane) twice.

    Charlie Dixon Port Adelaide Power AFL 2016

    Carlton’s situation is very different. Where the Power are firmly in the middle of their journey to a destination, the Blues are still working out which path to take. It’s been a while since we’ve talked Carlton, and in the intermittent period a lot has happened.

    The Blues are now much closer to running a list that is in keeping with their position on the ladder. The team’s average age and average games played are both 17th in the competition, ahead of the remarkably youthful Brisbane Lions. They have an equal-league high of 15 players aged 21 or younger.

    There are still some hangers-on in the older demographics though: the Blues have 21 players in prime age or older, more than ten of the 18 teams.

    It is playing out on the field. The kids are being played. Carlton’s average playing 22 age has been 24.8, their lowest mark for some time. It should get lower still going forward, given the Blues are still rocking line ups with ten guys aged 27 or older: Kade Simpson, Sam Rowe (as good a spoiler as you’d ever hope to see), Dale Thomas, Simon White, Levi Casboult, Ed Curnow, and Matthew Wright, as well as Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs and Matthew Kreuzer. They have been the younger of the two teams twice in four games – a much better strike rate than 2016.

    Two of those older stagers are out tonight: Kreuzer and Thomas are both carrying niggling injuries, and have been replaced by Andrew Phillips and debutant Cameron Polson. Carlton will therefore trot out their youngest line up of the year.

    The Power have made one change, with Patrick Ryder – one of the only WADA-banned players to have returned in great form – returning from a suspension in place of Matthew White.

    The youth movement does mean Carlton are experiencing the usual rebuild-y level of performance: their scoring power ranks 17th, defensive prowess 10th, and a midfield that is getting smashed on ground balls.

    Jacob Weitering, a potential 15-year, multi-time All Australian centre half back is withering in the Blues’ attack, a move I foreshadowed in the offseason but didn’t actually think was going to come to pass.

    He’s been a pretty good key position forward, but is already a very good defender, and will undoubtedly spend most of his career down back. I’m all for learning and continuous improvement, but it seems like the Blues are overthinking it here.

    Despite the middling offensive performances, Carlton are still playing to Brendon Bolton’s ball control scheme, averaging 90 field marks per game (third in the league) and breaking even on time in possessions. That would explain their solid defensive performance.

    Port Adelaide are built to break teams like this. The Power are moving fast, and playing what looks like a one on one option scheme with the ball in hand.

    What I mean by that is when the Power turn the ball over or execute a kick in, they’re attempting to move it into the middle of the ground by hand or foot, and then spread across both sides of the ground. It break opposition zones, poking holes and allowing Port Adelaide to score with great efficiency.

    The line has been set at seven goals at most betting agencies. It is hard to disagree with this assessment, despite the recent history between these two teams.

    Port Adelaide have started the year with an almighty spring in their step, and would undoubtedly be among the 4-0 starters if they hadn’t run into the two best teams in the competition.

    At home, with a full strength team, Port Adelaide will be far too strong for the youthful Carlton.

    It won’t quite be a bloodbath, because for all their flaws the Blues are still able to put the clamps on most teams. But a big margin looks in prospect; the Power by nine goals.

    That’s my Friday Night Forecast, what’s yours?

    Ryan Buckland
    Ryan Buckland

    As an economist, Ryan seeks to fix the world's economic troubles one graph at a time. As a sports fan, he's always looking one or two layers beneath the surface to search for meaning, on and off the field. You can follow Ryan here.

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    The Crowd Says (84)

    • April 21st 2017 @ 7:48am
      Darren said | April 21st 2017 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      Can’t argue with that Ryan although I’m heading to the game hoping the margin is a bit closer. Game style will be interesting. Carlton have only conceded 1 point from kick ins this year – lowest in the league. Their ability to keep the ball in their forward half for long periods will determine how close they get in the end. I think Blues are just one more draft away from the sort of player profile you are suggesting.
      Watching the last few weeks of Carlton games I think Pickett is very close to a breakout game – maybe on the big stage of a Friday night?
      I’ve been very impressed with the Carlton recruits this year. I don’t watch the other teams as closely and was wondering if this was seen to be a particularly strong draft?

      • April 21st 2017 @ 9:21am
        Macca said | April 21st 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

        Darren – “was wondering if this was seen to be a particularly strong draft?” – When you look at Fisher 27, MacReadie 47 & Williamson 61 and now Polson 59 you have to applaud the work SOS did in this draft, if you throw in Jack Silvagni at 53 last year you end up with exactly what makes great sides – getting great value out of late picks at the same time you have brought in 5 first rounders.

    • Roar Guru

      April 21st 2017 @ 7:52am
      DingoGray said | April 21st 2017 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      Yeah, Carlton will turn this into a dire affair.

      Not sure I’m a fan of the way they play, but they are improving so kudo’s to Bolts.

      • April 21st 2017 @ 9:28am
        Macca said | April 21st 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

        Dingo – the blues have average 20.75 scoring shots so far this year (including the game in terrible conditions in round 3) and when you look at the players the have debuted this year (MacReadie, Pickett, SPS, Fisher, Williamson and now Polson) 5 of the 6 have plenty of speed – they aren’t the finished article yet but they aren’t going to be a stodgy defensive side long term.

        • Roar Guru

          April 21st 2017 @ 10:05am
          DingoGray said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

          Thanks Macca, about the 50th time I’ve seen you trot out similar stuff about your debutants.

          Mate you guys are irrelevant (as my Lions are) at the moment. You can trot out as much pro Carlton material you like, but it doesn’t change the fact you are a very ordinary football side.

          You look on the right path, but the continual “Rosey” look on everything is as boring as Bat Poop.

          • April 21st 2017 @ 10:11am
            Macca said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

            If we are irrelevant Dingo why bother posting on a thread that is discussing us.

            And I am not saying we aren’t currently a “very ordinary football side” I just choose to focus on being “on the right path”

            And when it comes to “Carlton will turn this into a dire affair” and “the way they play” me being “rosey” doesn’t make me wrong.

          • April 21st 2017 @ 10:56am
            The Original Buzz said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

            I think the Lions fans should be excited, or at least happy that the club has turned a corner, Dingo. They are on the rise through rebuilding as well.
            When the Blues appointed Malthouse it was like watching a train crash in slow motion. I could see it coming before he even started, it was like they were tanking to get high draft picks by bringing in a dud.
            I can see the Lions and the Blues following the paths of Melbourne and St Kilda – a steady handed and level headed build into finals contentions and I seriously think both of those teams will get there this year.

            • Roar Guru

              April 21st 2017 @ 12:48pm
              DingoGray said | April 21st 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

              The Lions to watch this year have been far and away better than the last 3 years.
              However I’m under no illusions that everything is Rosey and good.
              I’m a realist. Brisbane have a long, long, long way a head of themselves.
              We clearly still have some deadwood on our list that needs culling.
              But I’m comfortable with those that are now in charge and moving the club in the right direction.

              But we are still a good 3 years away from being truly competitive and amongst finals discussions.

              • April 21st 2017 @ 1:23pm
                The Original Buzz said | April 21st 2017 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

                Dingo, Rosy and good doesn’t mean finals contention, it means that the team is heading in the right direction. The Blues took steps to do that and so have the Lions.

                The good thing is that both teams are above Sydney and Hawthorn. Surely that is something to smile about. 🙂

              • Roar Guru

                April 21st 2017 @ 1:39pm
                DingoGray said | April 21st 2017 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

                Agree buzz,

                but Brisbane supporters don’t get on any forum possible and tell every man and his pet animal how they continue to show genuine and exciting improvement when the closer to the truth is exactly what you said. Heading in the Right Direction only.

                If you listen to the Navy Blue army they are going be a Juggernaut . big dynasty.
                Bolton is a saviour. (he maybe- but who knows) They won what 6 games last year and have won one this year against opposition who don’t even know where they are at.

                Maybe if they “rained” it in slightly people would take it a bit more seriously / not take umbrage to their saturation of the discussion point.

              • April 21st 2017 @ 1:43pm
                Macca said | April 21st 2017 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

                Dingo – show me where I have got “on any forum possible and tell every man” about Carlton?

                And ” they continue to show genuine and exciting improvement” and “it means that the team is heading in the right direction.” are pretty much the same thing.

              • April 21st 2017 @ 1:50pm
                The Original Buzz said | April 21st 2017 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                Fair point Dingo, but after the club being in the doldrums for the last 15 years, we are finally seeing something resembling sustainable success. I am excited for the future of the Blues because they seem to have lost that arrogance they once had and are focusing on long term success.

              • Roar Guru

                April 21st 2017 @ 2:00pm
                DingoGray said | April 21st 2017 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

                “we are finally seeing something resembling sustainable success”
                I don’t mean to be rude, but this is what I mean about Carlton supporters. At this point in time you can’t honestly say that.
                I’m in the same boat with the Lions. Even though it looks promising, there is absolutely nothing that they’ve done this year that you can hang your hat on the speak.
                The sample of work is too small to be making these type of claims.

                People were saying the same thing about Richmond for years. Their supporters are still waiting for sustainable success.
                18 months on the right trail is not sustained success. And that is very much my point.

              • April 21st 2017 @ 10:40pm
                Darren said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:40pm | ! Report

                DingoGray you are on the money. Blues supporters we have some promise but we are miles off it. How about we shut up for awhile until we are a bit closer to the top 8?

              • April 21st 2017 @ 2:06pm
                Macca said | April 21st 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

                OK Dingo – tonight we have 10 players under 21 playing – what is your opinion on each of them?

              • Roar Guru

                April 21st 2017 @ 3:26pm
                DingoGray said | April 21st 2017 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

                What I’ve seen of your under 21’s I’ve got Weitering & Seton has very good players.

                The rest I would say the sample size is way too small to throw out any so many game career type claims that we’ve so often seen you do on here.

              • April 21st 2017 @ 3:39pm
                Macca said | April 21st 2017 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

                Dingo – What about Marchbank or Silvagni – they have more games under their belt than SPS?

                But even if we only take those 2 as very good players and add them to the likes of Cripps and Docherty (I would add Plowman but you mightn’t) you have a good core group that can be built around long term – if then another 1 or 2 the likes of Fisher, Williamson, MacReadie, Marcbank, Silvagni, C Curnow, Pickett and Polson overtime move into that “very good player” bracket of yours suddenly you have roughly a third of your team all 23 or under classed as very good players spread nicely over the field – can you see why we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

                And it isn’t just me rating Marchbank and Plowman as long term players for the blues – many good journalists have said exactly the same thing in the last few months.

    • April 21st 2017 @ 9:23am
      Macca said | April 21st 2017 @ 9:23am | ! Report

      Not fussed about the result just want to see the 10 kids under 21 take another step forward, the team continue to apply the pressure and adhere to structures as they have so far this year by and large and Bolton continue to bloom as a coach.

    • Roar Guru

      April 21st 2017 @ 9:30am
      Paul D said | April 21st 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      I’ll tune in and see how it’s going. I usually watch these 3rd party games if they’re close, once it starts blowing out I switch off. Hopefully it’s an entertaining game. Ball’s in your court Bolton

    • April 21st 2017 @ 9:30am
      Macca said | April 21st 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      Ryan – The blues are now up to 10 players under 21 and are about to debut their 6th player in 5 rounds – I was wondering if you had some comparative figures to see how this fits in the grand scheme of things – it seem high to me but I haven’t done any thorough analysis.

      • Columnist

        April 21st 2017 @ 9:55am
        Ryan Buckland said | April 21st 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

        I’m not sure actually. It’s not something I can think of a way to readily pull the data out of my usual source.

        I’ve seen someone else bring up the six players to debut in the first five rounds stat. Interestingly, this round is likely to see Sydney unveil their sixth debutante in five rounds. The expansion teams probably did this, but I’m not sure that counts for the purposes you’re talking about. I would think both Carlton and Sydney doing it in the same round is a huge coincidence and it’s not something that happens very often.

        • April 21st 2017 @ 10:00am
          Macca said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

          No worries Ryan – it is just something that was being built up a bit and I wondered if it was more common than it was being made out.

          It is interesting to see Sydney and the blues debuting the same number given their recent history – are some of Sydney’s players who have been on the list for a while but not able to get into a good side until now or more recent draftees?

        • April 21st 2017 @ 10:04am
          Macca said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

          1 more thing Ryan – do you have the average age of this weeks side? I assume it is younger than Port’s.

          • Columnist

            April 21st 2017 @ 10:21am
            Ryan Buckland said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

            That’s a bit easier: Carlton’s side is 23.6, compared to Port’s side at 25 even. Carlton’s median age is even lower: 22.3, compared to 25.7 for Port Adelaide. It’s about where you’d want it to be, although per the piece above I’d still nitpick Carlton’s line up a bit (ie playing Rowe at CHB rather than Weitering).

            • April 21st 2017 @ 10:33am
              Macca said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

              Ryan – Thanks for that. On Rowe at CHB rather than Weitering that will be rectified soon enough I believe, McKay will eventually come in and Weitering will go back with Rowe going out a likely outcome. The other alternative is that as MacReadie develops (this is longer term) he will make Rowe more obsolete which give the blues flexibility with Weitering.

              It is still a work in progress but you can see Boltons plan.

            • Roar Rookie

              April 21st 2017 @ 11:14am
              Lamby said | April 21st 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

              Hi Ryan – where do you get the ‘median and/or average age for the 22 this week’ stat from?

              • Columnist

                April 21st 2017 @ 11:25am
                Ryan Buckland said | April 21st 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

                There’s a few sources haha. Given I was only after a quick and dirty this time I used AFL Tables’ match stats from last week (which include the age of every player), subbed out the outs with the ins, and used a source called DraftGuru which has player DOBs.

            • Roar Guru

              April 21st 2017 @ 11:36am
              Col from Brissie said | April 21st 2017 @ 11:36am | ! Report

              Ryan, Rowe will start at full back on the 200cm Dixon. Rowe is in the side as he is the only big bodied defender we have capable of matching it against the big Gorilla forwards. After Rowe you drop down to Macreadie 196cm and Weitering 195cm but both do not have the bulk to compete against the big bodies yet.

              Rowes first three games were good but Lynch got him last week with his speed and the great delivery from his teammates. I think he will be required to take on the big bodied forwards throughout the season.

    • April 21st 2017 @ 9:46am
      Bugaluggs said | April 21st 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

      Noticed Daisy Thomas is out of Carlton’s line up due to soreness. This means Carlton will play Port with a full compliment of 22 fit and competent players. So far this season, the Blues were playing with a hand tied behind their backs by fielding the ex Collingwood star.

      Carlton to win by 5 points.

      • April 21st 2017 @ 10:48am
        The Original Buzz said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

        Agree fully with you on Daisy, not so sure on the 5 points at Adelaide Oval against a fit and in form Port.
        I am going to the game so I do hope it is the Blues by any number of points, a win is a win. Regardless, I am looking forward to a good game.

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