West Coast v Carlton
The AFL’s strange schedulers have puzzlingly placed this fixture in a Thursday night timeslot. Given this is the second of the bye affected weekends and only six matches will be played this round, quite why the AFL felt the need to play this game on a Thursday remains a mystery.
Rather than being puzzled, Carlton has a valid right to be really annoyed with the scheduling as the Blues have a 6 day break and an interstate trip to contend with, while their hosts will be fresh and ready to go after having the bye last round and enjoying a football free weekend.
After losing four of their last five matches to slip out of the top 8 for the first time all year, Carlton’s season is in danger of slipping away. The continued absence of gun midfielder Marc Murphy and enigmatic forward Jarrad Waite is hurting the side, but at least coach Brett Ratten has been able to recall tagger Andrew Carrazzo and half back flanker Heath Scotland for this match against the 3rd placed Eagles. West Coast lose their own half back flanker, Beau Waters, to suspension, but dashing midfielder Luke Shuey returns from suspension.
Since the start of 2008, Carlton has trekked west to compete at this ground 7 times, playing 4 matches against West Coast and 3 opposed to Fremantle. The Blues have really enjoyed Patersons Stadium’s wide open spaces, winning 5 of those 7 recent matches and, notably, those two defeats were both by a goal or less. The venue shouldn’t hold any fears then, but the quality of the opposition might. West Coast beat Carlton twice last year, including a narrow 3 point Semi Final win at this venue, and the Eagles looked to have improved since then, while the Blues seem to be stagnating. With Nick Duigan returning to defence last weekend, Carlton looked immediately more solid, so I think the Blues backline will be difficult for the Eagles to penetrate, however I think West Coast have a greater midfield depth and an excellent running capacity to hurt Carlton once the ball breaks free from the stoppages.
With West Coast’s ruck and midfield combination likely to be dominant, I’m tipping an Eagles win, although Carlton improved last week and should provide a good contest.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast to win by 39 points or less @ 2.25 (Sportsbet)
Season tally so far
Bets = 109 units
Won = 113.74 units
Profit/Loss = +4.74 units (4.3% profit)