Carlton v Western Bulldogs

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David Teague may have provided the immediate spark desperately needed at Carlton in his first game as caretaker coach, while Luke Beveridge could be feeling the heat as the Blues and Bulldogs collide Saturday night at Marvel Stadium in Round 13 of the 2019 AFL men’s season.

Life after Brendon Bolton at IKON Park has started more favourably than nearly anyone would dare have predicted, a spirited display in overcoming a 37-point deficit in the second quarter to stun the Brisbane Lions for their second win of the season. Off the back of a tremendous match-winning display from Patrick Cripps and career-best displays from multiple Blues, a rejuvenated outfit may have hit form at just the right time.

The same cannot be said for the floundering Doggies, who fell to three straight defeats before their bye last week including a ten-goal smashing at the hands of the Eagles in Perth a fortnight ago. Caleb Daniel posted numbers that would have been widely lauded in a winning side but previously the only other side this season to drop points to Carlton, now Beveridge’s men will be in a fight to avoid repeating the same fate.

Jesse Robertson previews an intriguing Saturday night clash as this week’s Featured Game for Play On Radio: 

Recent Fortunes

The Blues appeared a genuinely troubled outfit two weeks ago as heavy defeats against GWS and Essendon marked a month of results that ultimately tipped the ledger and resulted in Brendon Bolton’s sacking. Amidst outcry over not only on-field disappointment but years of recruiting strategy questioned, David Teague had a task to take on as interim coach but it appeared that for at least the time being, Carlton turned out a different side in the landmark win over Brisbane last week. With an overall record that still only reads 2-10, though, massive room for improvement remains.

A more refreshed Bulldogs outfit have much to go on with as well, heading into their Round 12 week off after conceding 133 points twice, admittedly against top contenders in Geelong and West Coast, whilst collapsing to defeat in Brad Scott’s last game at the North Melbourne helm in between these results. While they won the disposal count and remained competitive in the inside-50 and clearance stats, a pitiful third quarter saw them completely overrun in conceding nine goals whilst producing a meagre 4.10 in the first half, ensuring any glimmer of optimism would be extinguished by the final change.

Key Statistic

P. Cripps, 6 votes? The Blues bull was unstoppable in the second half, producing four goals off his own boot and ending with 38 disposals at 81% with eight clearances, bolstered by the efforts of Ed Curnow (30 disposals and reducing Lachie Neale to just six touches in the second half) and Sam Walsh (32 touches, 12 marks, two goal assists). Michael Gibbons’ 23 disposals, seven inside-50s and two goals showed significant improvement up forward while Jacob Weitering was a general in defence with more than half his 16 disposals coming from interceptions in one of the Blues’ most complete performances for years.

The Bulldogs were left sorry on the scoreboard at Optus Stadium in their last outing, partly due to their poor conversion around the goals but Caleb Daniel certainly would have his head held high with 32 of 34 disposals finding the target, complete with eight rebound-50s on a busy night in defence. Perhaps the most telling stat was being walked over in the air, losing contested marks 13-3 with Aaron Naughton’s influence heavily limited. With seven disposals, five uncontested marks and 1.1, more presence was needed as a tall target while the game was still available to be won and in most likely lining up on Weitering, a lift in work rate must arrive sooner than later.

Prediction

If there was any reasonable chance left to impose their will and string some form together, it would be now for David Teague’s side, having last scored 100 points against this side eight weeks ago in their previous meeting.

Carlton by 9 in a thriller.