Carlton Blues / Round 5 Preview: Carlton vs. Port Adelaide

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Round 5 Preview: Carlton vs. Port Adelaide

Written by Bryce Whitney (@AFLBryce) on 20 April 2017

After a disappointing Round 4 loss to the Suns, Carlton will face the incredulous task of an in-form Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval this Friday night. The Blues won three of their last five against the Power, including a two-point thriller at Etihad in Round 8 last season.

Port Adelaide is coming off a tough five-goal loss to the Giants up in Canberra. They remained competitive for a majority of the contest with a quality Giants outfit but faded away at the end.

IN: Cameron Polson, Andrew Phillips
OUT: Dale Thomas (Soreness), Matthew Kreuzer (Soreness)

Carlton will see another debutant this week with Cam Polson coming into the squad. Carlton will have their sixth debutant for the 2017 season. Polson was named best on the ground on the weekend in the VFL, racking up 28 disposals and a goal. Polson is a 177cm forward that pushes into the midfield and played on the wing during his time with the Sandringham Dragons. He leads from the front and is a ferocious tackler, has lightning speed, and a great finishing ability. He has been an exciting prospect for the Blues and will show us why on Friday night.

Andrew Phillips will play his first game of the season and draw a tough matchup with Patrick Ryder which I've detailed below as a key matchup.

Keep our tackling consistent

Carlton’s tackling last week was outstanding. When you beat a team 82-44 in tackling, winning is eventually going to come from it.

It is something that Carlton needs to be able to back up week after week and keep consistent. We are ranked second in the AFL for tackling, averaging 76 per game, and that’s no mistake. After the Suns game, Brendon Bolton said that Carlton “want to be defined this year by pressure and consistency” which shows where the team's focus is. I’ve said it once, and ill say it again, tackling needs no skill, just effort. As long as Carlton are showing that they are staying consistent in the tackling category, the wins will start to come.

Win the Clearances

Both Carlton and Port Adelaide were smashed in the midfield last week. Carlton lost the battle 39-28, while Port similarly lost theirs 49-30. The Blues were only let down for a short period of the game last week when the Sun's midfield started to take over.

Kreuzer dominated in the ruck by Witts and just couldn’t get the midfielders a clean look at the ball. The constant battle Carlton is going to face is that they don’t have enough quality midfielders apart from the likes of Murphy, Gibbs, Cripps and Curnow. We lack a second-tier of midfielders that can pick up the slack when the above players are out of steam. Zac Fisher was a very exciting inclusion to the team last week as Polson and Phillips will be this week, but we could bolster our stocks from an addition of Sam Kerridge. Kerridge has put his best foot forward with 40 touches and a goal in the VFL over the weekend and would make a useful addition to our second-tier of midfielders. Sam Petrevski-Seton has pulled up sore after last week's match, and Kerridge has made the trip to South Australia as an emergency.

Fans shouldn't be disheartened

There are still ‘fans’ that show their lack of support for the Blues via social media. Carlton has made it very clear that they will be blooding youth throughout this rebuild, and if the club is showing effort and gets outclassed by a more mature, skilful team we can’t be disheartened.

Malthouse tore this club to shreds, and as a Carlton fan, it’s one of my biggest blights on the history of the club. Eddie Betts, Tom Bell, Chris Yarran, Jeff Garlett. Those are just some of the names that disembarked from Carlton to join different clubs while under Mick Malthouse. Dale Thomas was a lasting gift from Malthouse. Everyone except the club knew that signing Dale Thomas to a stupidly large contract was a bad idea, but that will be over soon. If fans stop and think about the direction Carlton were in at that time and the route they’re on now, it should remove any doubt from their mind that the path we are currently taking is the correct one.

The Blues are building to be a dynasty for years to come, not sit in the middle of the pack and suffer losses in the first week of the finals each season.

As Brendon Bolton says, “We are defined by more than wins and losses.”

Key matchup of the game

Andrew Phillips vs. Patrick Ryder

Matty Kreuzer was dominated in the middle last week, and this week Carlton have brought in Andrew Phillips due to Kreuzer having "Soreness". A win in the ruck for the Blues is crucial to the outcome of the match, as was demonstrated last week when Witts and Wright took the Blues to town. Andrew Phillips has 4cm and 8kg on Ryder which could help us get a leg up from the centre clearances. Kreuzer didn't perform well enough last week, and the fact that he has been withdrawn due to soreness isn't a great sign. Phillips can also drop into the Forward line to give Carlton a fantastic marking target. I think Phillips is a great option for the Blues and will prove to be a handy ruck partner with Kreuzer when he returns.

Port Adelaide is going to be tough to bring down at their home ground. Carlton has only played Port once at Adelaide Oval, and it concluded with a triple-figure defeat. If Carlton manages to find a way to quell a midfield of quality players like Ollie Wines, Robbie Gray, Travis Boak and Brad Ebert, the game will be up for grabs. Port are the better side on paper, but stranger things have happened, and Carlton have an excellent record against the Power.

My prediction: Unfortunately, Port Adelaide by 14 points.