Carlton will take on Hawthorn on Saturday at the MCG, in what looms as a must win for David Teague’s men.
After a competitive performance against the Dogs, the Blues were outclassed in the end, before going down comprehensively to the undefeated Melbourne side.
Right now this puts the Blues in a position of sitting 13th at 3-6 and quite possibly out of contention for finals. This is well below what Carlton were expecting this year and if Carlton fail again to Hawthorn, who suffered a defeat to the winless Kangaroos last week, Teague could be in dire trouble.
Hawthorn enter this clash with a 2-7 record, including after last week’s embarrassing loss to North, where they gave up a lead of beyond 30 points. Carlton enter as the clear favourite to get back to winning form.
Carlton will welcome back Jack Silvagni to the side along with Tom De Koning, who has been in good form in the VFL.
They will provide further attacking options alongside Coleman Medal leader Harry McKay. Out of the side come the injured David Cunningham with an ACL. De Koning comes in for Levi Casboult and Luke Parks has also been omitted.
An important focus for Carlton will be how they deliver the ball into their forward 50. They fell short last week despite it often being a strength of the side so far in 2021.
The players that can really make a difference for the Blues include the following strong performers last week.
Harry McKay kept up his work last week with three goals. Patrick Cripps had 27 disposals, 18 handballs and nine kicks. Sam Docherty had 27 disposals, 12 kicks and 15 handballs. Sam Walsh had 30 disposals, 14 kicks and 12 handballs.
For Hawthorn, here are some players who did well against North, and who can make a difference for them.
James Cousins had 23 disposals, eight kicks, 15 handballs and two goals. Jacob Koschitzke had 15 disposals, seven kicks, eight handballs and two goals. Blake Hardwick had 28 disposals, 21 kicks, seven handballs and seven marks. Liam Sheils had 24 disposals, 17 kicks and seven handballs.
The last two times these teams have met, Carlton have blown leads of over 30 points. In 2019, they led by 36 points in the second quarter in Round 6 in Tassie, before getting overrun to go down by five points. Last year they led by 31 points after kicking the first five goals, before going on to lose by that exact margin somehow.
Carlton will be hurting from these last two results. But by welcoming some quality players back in Silvagni and De Koning, hopefully along with McKay up forward, the Blues can kick a winning score and get a much needed victory.
If not, the writing could be on the wall for Teague.
Prediction: Carlton by 25 points.