Coverage: Etihad Stadium, 5:40pm, Sunday 4th March
Television: Fox Footy
If your author was to summarise the NAB Cup’s first week for both the Western Bulldogs and Carlton, he’d go with ‘disappointing’. The Dogs nearly slipped up against GWS and lost, barely, to an understrength Collingwood, while Carlton were flattered by the scoreline as they were trounced by both Port Adelaide and Adelaide. Both sides have their problems, but it is only the NAB Cup.
That said, both sides will be looking to improve. Whether the Bulldogs go into full rebuild for 2012 remains to be seen, while Carlton’s top 4 hopes almost certainly rely on improvement out of those players who lost last weekend.
The midfield battle is one to watch, with Bulldogs young guns such as Tom Liberatore and Mitch Wallis facing off against a bunch of Carlton players conveniently not named Judd, such as Brock McLean and Ed Curnow.
Brian Lake: Lake is the question mark hanging over the Bulldogs’ 2012 finals chances. If he can get going he will tear sides apart. If not, he’s a liability who deserves to be playing at Williamstown. His personal struggles and injury problems in 2011 have been speculated upon, but this mark his chance to show that he has what it takes to really lift the Dogs in 2012.
Luke Dahlhaus: How this hairy bandit made it through to the rookie draft is still beyond me. Now senior-listed, Dahlhaus will be asked to stand and deliver as a crumber in a forward line now lacking the big muscle target in Barry Hall.
Brock McLean: Once again looking to tear it up in 2012 apparently, McLean showed his credentials with a quality performance in the loss to Port Adelaide last Sunday. He’ll be looking to prove himself worthy of a role in Carlton’s talented midfield throughout this pre-season.
Marc Murphy: Murphy will provide a touch of class through a weaker Carlton midfield and will be looked upon to lead the line. His extra skill will give the Blues a big advantage through the middle.
Watch Out For:
The Dogs’ Defensive Battle: Lake will get the chance to get into form against what continues to be a makeshift Carlton forward line, with the Blues to look to crumber Eddie Betts to get under their rotating big men and score heavily.
Carlton’s midfield class, despite missing players like Jamison, Gibbs and some bloke named Judd, will still be too strong for a Bulldogs outfit.
Carlton by 28.
1. Jarrad Grant, 2. Robert Murphy, 3. Mitch Wallis, 4. Daniel Cross, 5. Matthew Boyd, 7. Shaun Higgins, 8. Patrick Veszpremi, 10. Easton Wood, 12. Tom Williams, 13. Daniel Giansiracusa, 14. Clay Smith, 15. Jason Tutt, 16. Ryan Griffen, 17. Adam Cooney, 19. Liam Jones, 21. Tom Liberator, 22. Dylan Addison, 23. Jordan Roughead, 25. Ryan Hargrave, 27. Will Minson, 29. Tory Dickson, 30. Christian Howard, 36. Brian Lake, 37. Lukas Markovic, 40. Luke Dahlhaus, 41. Andrew Hooper, 42. Liam Picken, 48. Matthew Panos, 49. Ayce Cordy
2. Jordan Russell, 3. Marc Murphy, 4. Bryce Gibbs, 6. Kade Simpson, 7. Dylan Buckley, 8. Matthew Kreuzer, 9. Kane Lucas, 10. Matthew Watson, 13. Chris Yarran, 14. Brock Mclean, 15. Jeremy Laidler, 16. Andrew Collins, 17. Sam Rowe, 18. Paul Bower, 19. Eddie Betts, 21. Josh Bootsma, 22. Shaun Hampson, 23. Lachie Henderson, 29. Heath Scotland, 31. Marcus Davies, 32. Bret Thornton, 35. Ed Curnow, 38. Jeff Garlett, 39. Frazer Dale, 41. Levi Casboult, 42. Zach Tuohy, 44. Andrew Carrazzo, 45. Aaron Joseph, 46. David Ellard