Michael Voss has touched down in Melbourne as the Brisbane Lions legend closes in becoming Carlton’s new AFL coach.
Carlton will take on North Melbourne on Saturday afternoon at Marvel Stadium in Ed Curnow’s 200th game.
It looms as a massive opportunity for both sides. Carlton have been in reasonable form of late, taking down Collingwood after an early deficit of 24 points to run out in a thrilling 29-point victory.
It was the Blues’ seventh win of this year, equalling their record of last year and maximum winning record since 2013.
The game is Carlton’s biggest opportunity to get past seven wins since 2013, as they currently sit 13th and have shown signs of improvement. They must make the most of this opportunity against the last-placed North Melbourne outfit.
North Melbourne see this as a massive opportunity, despite only winning three games and a draw to this point.
This is because North have won five of the last six clashes with Carlton, with Carlton finally ending that streak last year in a gutsy, closely contested, scrappy seven-point win in Round 8.
North also played very good footy against Essendon, with late goals to the Bombers giving them an 18-point win.
But North Melbourne carry a lot of momentum into this game and will be no easy beats, despite how crucial for Carlton’s rebuild it is for them to win this game.
There are some players that could make a difference to this game, following excellent performances against Collingwood and Essendon respectively.
Sam Walsh had 39 disposals, 23 kicks, 16 handballs, nine marks and a goal. Walsh is in Rising Star form this year and is seriously looking as if he could captain the Blues in the future.
Jack Martin had 18 disposals, 12 kicks, six handballs and a goal. Jack Silvagni had 15 disposals, ten kicks, five handballs, seven marks and a goal.
Ed Curnow had 21 disposals, 16 kicks, five handballs and seven marks, and in game 200 will look to take charge and steer his team towards a victory.
As for North Melbourne, these were their standout players last week.
Nick Larky will lead them in attack, after having 11 disposals, seven kicks, four handballs and three goals.
Curtis Taylor had 15 disposals, 11 kicks, four handballs and two goals. Aaron Hall had 31 disposals, 28 kicks, 14 marks and three handballs. Jy Simpkin had 23 disposals, ten kicks and 13 handballs. Luke McDonald had 26 disposals, 15 kicks, 11 handballs and eight marks.
One big out for Carlton most importantly is the loss of key forward Harry McKay. He led the Blues to a win over Collingwood, kicking four of the Blues’ six goals in the last quarter.
Down forward the Blues will be without Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow, so it is down to the youngsters Jack Martin, Jack Silvagni, Matthew Owies and Zac Fisher to step up along with the experience of Eddie Betts.
However, one big return for the Blues is Patrick Cripps, averaging 23.9 disposals so far this season.
Carlton must see this as a big opportunity and a must-win game. If they drop this one, it’s basically goodbye finals and not quite what they are after in an improving rebuild, to drop a game to a team placed last.
But considering they managed to break the North duck last year with the close win in Round 8, they should back themselves in to get the job done. They will hope to lift for star Ed Curnow’s 200th and get a crucial win for him.
Prediction: Carlton by 25 points.