The Eagles are clinging onto their spot in the top eight after losing at home for the first time in 2021 last week. They head east looking to pick up just their second win on the road this season, when they take on Carlton. It’s also a must win for the Blues who at 4-7, are losing touch with the top eight. We’ve got you covered with the preview and tips for this crucial Sunday afternoon clash at the SCG!
SCG, Sunday June 6th, 3:20pm AEST
It’s a season defining clash for both sides as the Blues take on the Eagles at the SCG. Carlton come into the clash sitting thirteenth on the ladder, with just one win from their last four games, after once again failing to put four quarters together last week against the Swans.
The Eagles have lost two in a row, and were upset by a young Essendon side that exposed many of the Eagles flaws. The game time of Nic Naitanui continues to be a mystery and if it wasn’t for an incredibly efficient performance by their forward line, the loss could’ve been a lot worse than sixteen points.
The Eagles have been ravaged with injuries as Tim Kelly, Oscar Allen, Josh Kennedy, Brandon Ah Chee and Jarrod Brander all out through injury. Carlton will welcome Zac Fisher back from injury, whilst Michael Gibbons will miss through injury.
With the Eagles missing Luke Shuey, Tim Kelly and Liam Duggan, the midfield battle now becomes very even. Elliot Yeo is on a minutes restriction and only played 64% game time last week. There’s a lot of pressure on Dom Sheed, Andrew Gaff and Jack Redden to carry the load through the midfield. Sheed has stood up in the absence of his star teammates, averaging 30 disposals over the past five rounds.
The matchup inside the Eagles forward 50 is where the game will be won and lost, it’s Carlton’s biggest weakness and the Eagles biggest strength. Carlton conceded 100+ points for the sixth time in eleven games last week against the Swans, and have conceded the fifth most points in the competition. The Eagles lost the inside 50 count by 12 last week, but were in the game right up until the final minutes thanks to the remarkable efficiency of their forwards, who kicked nine goals from their first nine scoring shots. The Eagles are the number one ranked side in the AFL for accuracy in front of goal. Despite Kennedy’s absence a forward line possessing Darling, Ryan, Vardy and Williams could stretch a struggling Blues defence.
West Coast have beaten Carlton in the last five meetings between the two sides by an average of sixteen points, and the Blues have had losses of 25, 28, 18, 16, 28 and 22 points in their six games against top eight sides this season. With the Eagles depth being tested, this is going to be a close encounter.
Despite the Eagles having plenty of outs, they’ve still got plenty of talent in their side. They pulled off some crucial wins late in 2020 when severely undermanned, they’re definitely capable of performing without their stars. Although West Coast will be the outsiders, Carlton’s poor defence and their inability to beat the better sides in the competition, is a massive concern. The Eagles still have enough quality in their midfield to get the job done, and upset the Blues.
After a slow start to the season Patrick Cripps has found form again, averaging 26 disposals across his last three games. The small dimensions of the SCG suited Cripps last week, as he was utterly dominant with 27 disposals, 7 clearances and 3 goals. With the absence of Luke Shuey and Elliot Yeo for the majority this season, Dom Sheed has lifted his game, averaging 27 disposals per game in 2021. Sheed picked up 43 disposals in a remarkable performance last week. Jack Darling has had an outstanding 2021 campaign, kicking 28 goals to be sitting 6th in the Coleman medal race. Darling has kicked multiple goals in eight of his eleven games so far this season, and has kicked two or more goals in three of his last four games against Carlton.
Patrick Cripps 25+ Disposals
Dom Sheed 25+ Disposals
Jack Darling 2+ Goals
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