The most appealing aspect of this clash between the Blues – who still have a slight sniff of finals action after trouncing Essendon – and the Suns, who are just waiting for the season to set, will be seeing Gary Ablett Jnr and Chris Judd go at it. Ablett has been notching some extraordinary numbers whipping about among the Gold Coast kids, and Judd had a respectable return of 23 touches in his first game for a month and will only be better for the run.
The Suns have had a mixed-up month of footy, playing the two current top teams in Sydney and Hawthorn and being predictably smacked in both, yet they also split the priority pick pecking order matches, losing to the Demons yet knocking off GWS; thankfully as second season in is too early to have a bogey side already.
Injuries have prevented Gold Coast building upon their results of their debut year; they currently have 18 players on the sidelines unavailable for the rest of the season yet those that remain are playing for a spot on the list.
Brett Ratten has wavered between seeking a contract extension and seek.com.au as the Blues polarizing season continues.
After delivering an upset win over Collingwood in Round 16 that should have been the catalyst for their finals charge; Carlton were another victim of the irrepressible Roos the week after, making every game since a near-must win situation to make the finals.
The Blues just did enough against the Dogs, beat Richmond in the last minute then were respectable in their loss to ladder-leading Sydney. Back to back wins against Brisbane and Essendon leaves them in ninth, though if they win as expected, and the Roos bounce the Dockers on Sunday they will be in eight by the end of the round.
Ratten even came out and said his side “From where we’ve come from mid-season, if we did make it we’d be dangerous.” if they make it to September.
The Blues will still likely be without fullback Michael Jamieson, and ruckman Robbie Warnock, though Rohan Kerr will face a test on his shoulder. The most encouraging part about Carlton’s demolition of the Bombers would be the even spread of ball shared through their midfield, Mark Murphy had 32 touches, Bryce Gibbs had 28 and the load wasn’t placed squarely on the shoulders of the returning Judd.
Matthew Warnock is one of the few Suns defenders still standing, and will have a big job trying to contain the multi-pronged Carlton forward line, with Jarrad Waite finding form after an interrupted season. At the other end Stephen May turned in a classy display against the Hawks and will have to be watched.
The Gold Coast have only played the Blues once before; a 119-point drubbing in their second ever AFL appearance. It may not be that big this time, but an easy win is expected, and necessary for the Blues, especially with percentage likely to decide eighth spot.
Carlton by 86, Ablett to get 31.