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The first semi final of 2023 sees Melbourne hosting the in-form Carlton to see who wins the right to continue on and play Brisbane in a preliminary final next week. Join The Roar for live scores from 7:50pm (AEST).
Melbourne enter this match-up with some serious questions around them for the first time since their omission of Brody Grundy late in the home and away season. Having lost Jake Melksham before September football even began, they have now also lost Jacob van Rooyen to suspension for this critical game.
Of course, the Demons will be missing Angus Brayshaw due to concussion resulting from the now infamous incident with Brayden Maynard in the qualifying final last week. They also chose to omit Michael Hibberd in favour of Adam Tomlinson this week, and bring in James Jordon and Charlie Spargo for Brayshaw and van Rooyen.
Losing a key midfielder and a tall forward target amplifies the Demons’ key issue of last week, their efficiency going inside 50, with Simon Goodwin hoping to rectify the situation by going in to this week with a smaller forward line. Going up against another formidable backline this time headlined by Jacob Weitering, the Demons will need to come up with a new strategy for their forward half play if they hope to not repeat last week’s mistakes.
Carlton have been playing like a team possessed in the back half of this season and enter tonight on the back of their first finals appearance and win in a decade. Having finally tasted a small piece of finals football after such a long wait, they’re playing like a team that mean to firmly take this opportunity and run away with it all the way to a premiership.
All of the pieces that make the Blues so threatening were on display in last week’s game against Sydney. Charlie Curnow’s ability to draw an extra defender and still hit the scoreboard is aiding in making the ground level players around him even more lethal.
Unfortunately, like Melbourne, the Blues also have some forced changes this week with Harry McKay going out with concussion and Jack Martin out for one week due to suspension. Jesse Motlop comes into the starting 22 from the substitute spot for Martin, and Matthew Kennedy replaces McKay.
My gut feel for this game is that it will be decided by who can win the contest and ground ball more. Both midfields pride themselves on their contested footy and their hunger for the contest, and I think it will be Carlton’s midfield who will just edge out Melbourne’s to hand the Blues a ticket to the GABBA to meet the Lions in eight days’ time.
B: J. Lever, A. Tomlinson, J. Bowey
HB: J. McVee, S. May, C. Salem
C: L. Hunter, C. Oliver, E. Langdon
HF: J. Jordon, B. Fritsch, C. Petracca
F: T. Sparrow, T. McDonald, A. Neal-Bullen
R: M. Gawn (c), J. Viney, K. Pickett
I/C: C. Spargo, T. Rivers, J. Smith, K. Chandler
EMG: B. Grundy, M. Hibberd, B. Laurie, J. Schache
IN: Jordon, Spargo, Tomlinson.
OUT: Brayshaw, Hibberd, van Rooyen.
B: B. Kemp, J. Weitering, N. Newman
HB: A. Cincotta, M. McGovern, A. Saad
C: B. Acres, P. Cripps (c), M. Cottrell
HF: S. Docherty, T. De Koning, M. Owies
F: L. Fogarty, C. Curnow, J. Motlop
R: M. Pittonet, A. Cerra, S. Walsh
I/C: M. Kennedy, C. Marchbank, D. Cuningham, G. Hewett
EMG: P. Dow, O. Hollands, Z. Fisher, S. Durdin
IN: Kennedy, Motlop (EF sub).
OUT: Martin, McKay.