Carlton will take on Port Adelaide in Saturday night’s blockbuster at the MCG.
This will be the biggest test for David Teague’s men so far. Coming off two wins in the last two weeks, they face an in-form Port Adelaide side sitting fifth on the table at the start of Round 5.
The Power are coming off three wins from four, including a thrilling two-point win over the premiers of last year Richmond last week.
In Port’s incredible victory last week, Robbie Gray provided the difference, with a mark and set shot that won the game late for his side. He was excellent on the night, gathering 15 disposals, ten kicks and five marks.
Port have plenty of fire power. Steven Motlop and Connor Rozee kicked four goals between them last week, which was also crucial.
The players that were influential for the Power included Travis Boak, with 29 disposals, 17 kicks and 12 handballs, Karl Amon, with 25 disposals, 16 kicks and nine handballs, and Ollie Wines, with 27 disposals, 11 kicks and 16 handballs.
These are players Carlton are going to have to contain if they are to win three in a row and send a message that they are back.
This game is a huge opportunity for the Blues, with a home crowd behind them at the MCG, in a match that celebrates three milestones.
Matthew Kennedy celebrates game 50, Sam Docherty will play his 100th game for the club, and finally, Eddie Betts will also achieve another Carlton milestone, equalling Andrew Walker’s record for most games played by an Indigenous Blue.
Ahead of their sternest test yet, Carlton have swung the axe. Out of the side come Paddy Dow and Will Setterfield along with the injured Jack Silvagni and Luke Parks.
They welcome back into the side tall forward Mitch McGovern, speedster Zac Williams and Tom Williamson.
These are the players that could make a difference for the Blues.
Harry McKay could build on his last few weeks’ performances, kicking nine goals in the last two games, including kicking last week’s sealer as the game was drawing to its close to secure Carlton’s second win of this year.
Eddie Betts made a good impact last week, with 12 disposals, nine kicks and five marks. If he can hit the scoreboard, it’ll help the Blues go a long way to a big win.
Patrick Cripps is finding his form. Last week against the Suns, he gathered 21 disposals, ten kicks and 11 handballs.
Ed Curnow was sensational, gathering 32 disposals, 23 kicks, nine handballs and a stunning long bomb in the second quarter that got the Blues’ fans out of their seats.
Carlton have had a bad hoodoo against Port Adelaide, with their last victory coming in 2016 when they defeated Port by two points at Marvel Stadium. Port have won the previous four clashes against the Blues, including last year.
In 2020, Robbie Gray broke their hearts with a most unlikely match-winning goal from deep in the pocket after the final siren. It was Carlton’s inability to hold out the top-of-the-table Port that cost them a win for the ages.
But on Saturday night, after two wins in a row, Carlton fans will be out in force at the MCG and can feel the momentum thriving through the club right now. Port have some key outs to injury, including Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma.
If there was ever a time for Carlton to make a true statement and show their depth with a few injuries to key forwards they have proven they can win without, it’s now.
It is time for Carlton to end the Port hoodoo, keep the momentum building behind the club right now with the home crowd behind them, and show they are well and truly a contender for the eight this year, as well as making it a special night for the milestone players and the fans who are starting to believe.
They just must remember to play four consistent quarters and not get carried away after scraping home last week.
Prediction: Carlton by ten points.