MCG, Saturday 28 July, 7:40pm
This round 18 clash looms much larger than just the four points on offer. The patience and hope of fans, members and boards has all but evaporated for the Blues and the Tigers, jobs and futures could be on the line both on and off the field.
Carlton has won the past seven matches against Richmond, including the annual thumping in round one by 44 points. The Blues, currently in eleventh, are still clinging to top eight aspirations in a season where after their round three defeat of the Pies, top four was theirs for the taking. The realities of an injury plagued and inconsistent season has seen their sights lowered significantly, especially after a season ending injury to Lachie Hanson, which on top of the suspension to Chris Judd, leaves this a must win this match for them to stay in the finals hunt.
Mitch Robinson will be another Blue missing, after failing a fitness test; while a number of players including ruckman Matthew Kreuzer (hip), Zach Tuohy (back) and Kane Lucas (hamstring) come into the game under an injury cloud.
The Blues just beat a fading Western Bulldogs side last week, after being down by as much as 25 points, were belted by the Roos, humbled by the Hawks, yet amid all this knocked off the Pies for a second time in round 15.
Richmond will be treating the clash as a virtual elimination final. The yellow and black army had their ever-haunted hopes raised with stirring victories over Sydney, St Kilda and Hawthorn suggesting long-sought finals action may soon be theirs, but alas, losses to the cellar-dwelling Suns and a single-handed effort by Drew Petrie has left their situation dire.
The Tigers haven’t beaten Carlton since round one 2008, and in their late season clashes in the past two seasons have produced losses by 103 and 89 points. Damien Hardwick has been feeling increasing pressure, as some of his charges adopted the mantle of Richmond being the sleeping giants of the competition a bit too literally, and in twelfth place on the ladder – it is crunch time.
Jake King comes onto the bench for the Tigers, in for Brett O’Hanlon, and will no doubt ‘push up’ into the forward line at some point and provide some ground level grunt.
Mark Murphy and Andrew Carrazo – who will play his 150th – notched up 32 and 31 disposals in the round one clash, while Cotchin was the only notable ball winner for the Tigers.
Key Match Ups
Andrew Carazzo vs Trent Cotchin – Carazzo will have to not only hold his own possession wise in his 150th, but also try quell the class of Cotchin in a vital battle in the centre.
Eddie Betts vs Steven Morris – The dangerous, yet erratic Betts meets the in-form young defender Morris, who had 23 disposals against the Roos.
Matthew Kreuzer vs Ivan Maric – The Missile vs The Mullet – a battle of the big men not only in the centre circle, but around the ground where both have proven to be go-to drifting forward targets.
The Blues are almost on their last-legs personnel wise, and the Tigers will be treating it like their own grand final and will be desperate. Both teams are too inconsistent to pick, but on sheer recent history alone, and that unquantifiable thing that one team can hold over another, the Blues hoodoo may continue for the Tigers.
Blues by 7.
B: Tuohy Jamison Joseph
HB: Yarran Thornton Scotland
C: Lucas Carrazzo Gibbs
HF: Collins McInnes Dale
F: Garlett Casboult Betts
Foll: Kreuzer Murphy McLean
I/C: Armfield Bell Curnow Davies
Emg: Ellard Duigan Russell
In: Kreuzer Davies Lucas Tuohy
Out: Russell Bower Duigan Watson
B: Morris Rance Newman
HB: Houli Moore Dea
C: Grigg Cotchin Deledio
HF: Martin Edwards Jackson
F: McGuane Riewoldt Nahas
Foll: I Maric Conca Tuck
I/C: A Maric King Post Ellis
Emg: O’Hanlon Miller Graham
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