Carlton fans finally have a glimmer of hope to hang on to after the Blues’ 16-point win over old rival Essendon at the MCG.
David Teague’s men rallied after an arm wrestle for most of the game.
Essendon mounted a late comeback but the steady head of captain Patrick Cripps kicked the sealer to spoil the Bombers’ chance of a comeback.
The win is one of those games where you take the four points and move on. The Dons are a side on the rebuild and they will lose more than they win this season. They are blooding a lot of youth as well as trying new things out under new coach Ben Rutten.
The win sees Carlton place 12th with three wins heading into two big clashes against competition leaders Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs.
Those games are a real litmus test to see if they are contenders or pretenders in 2021.
The Blues can be excited to see the future and the development of young star Sam Walsh. At just 20, Walsh is already a favourite for the Brownlow.
Walsh had 33 touches, eight score involvements and two goal assists on Sunday. Walsh’s ability to be a strong presence at centre clearances has seen Carlton get first use of the ball at the centre bounce.
Carlton have also recruited well in the off-season, picking up out-of-favour Bomber Adam Saad, who has been influential for the Blues in the early part of the season.
He has been composed and he has been the ball carrier that the Blues lacked to lift them to the next level.
Carlton have finally found a consistent key forward in Harry McKay, who is just one goal behind Taylor Walker on the Coleman table.
The real test will come this week against the Bulldogs, who are coming off their first loss of the year against the reigning premiers Richmond on Friday night.
The next two weeks will prove if Carlton are a team that could mount a case for a finals spot, or whether this is just another season to excite and disappoint fans.
The pieces of the puzzle at Princes Park might be falling into place with strong recruitment and development of players being the key cog in Carlton’s game plan.
The Blues haven’t had a finals berth since 2013 but fans will be hoping a change is on the horizon.