Blues wary of rising Dockers
Carlton assistant coach Cameron Bruce says his club is bracing for a tough contest against Fremantle at Optus Stadium on Saturday night, in what looms as a crucial match for both clubs’ finals hopes.
With the Dockers having won their past two matches to join the Blues on a 4-6 win-loss record, Bruce said his club was anticipating a fierce contest against the in-form team in purple.
“They’ve been really impressive; we have had a good look at them over the last few days. They are putting some really good football together,” Bruce told Sports Drive on Wednesday.
“They had a slower start to the year in their hub on the goldy (Gold Coast), but since their last couple of games there and back on to their home deck, they’re playing some really quality football against quality opposition.
“They’ve got some very impressive players around the contest, their young guys are contributing and winning a lot of ball in Brayshaw and Cerra and the champion midfielder that is Nat Fyfe. Walters will probably come back as well so there’s some talent there.”
In stark contrast to Fremantle, David Teague’s side have dropped their past two matches against Hawthorn and West Coast to drop back to the pack, having produced some impressive performances the month prior to arriving in Perth.
Having led the Eagles by as much as 19 points early in the third term, the Blues conceded five consecutive goals in an 18 minute stretch, the eighth time this season they have conceded four goals or more in succession in a match.
Bruce acknowledged that it was something the team needed to stamp out of their football in order to remain in the finals hunt.
“The lapse in the third term really cost us the game. You cannot give a side that’s got that much talent around the midfield an opportunity with first use and speed out of the centre bounce. They got that, and it was pretty hard to defend,” he said.
“We missed a chance to beat a quality side in good form. We have done that on quite a few occasions. We’re continually looking at learning from it and we’ll hopefully find ourselves in that position again against a really quality side and turn the tables.”
Bruce, who played 234 AFL games with Melbourne and Hawthorn in a 13 year playing career at the elite level and now serves as the Blues forward coach.
The 40 year old was impressed with the performance of West Aussie young gun Zac Fisher, who kicked a career high four goals against West Coast playing as a small forward.
“He played a really good small forward role, he got to the right spots and like you do when you’re a small forward you put yourself in that position you’re going to get an opportunity to hit the scoreboard, which he did,” Bruce said.
“He also applied some great pressure, which we really focus on and put a high price on in terms of importance as a small forward.”
Carlton will hold it’s main training session on Thursday, with Bruce confirming several key players will put their name forward for selection.
“Harry McKay needs to get through training tomorrow, he’ll hopefully put himself in a position to be included. He’s a really important player in our mix in the way we play the game, so hopefully the fans see him this weekend,” he said.
“Caleb Marchbank resumed his football on the weekend in a scratch match, Paddy Dow played as well and will build some form. We’re starting to get some guys who were injured back in to the mix to put selection pressure on the guys in the senior side.”
Jack Martin will miss the game against Fremantle after sustaining a calf injury against the Eagles, while Mitch McGovern and David Cunningham are both set to miss at least another week of football.
The match against Fremantle is Carlton’s last match as part of their WA hub, before relocating to Darwin to play Gold Coast in round 13.
IMAGE: Herald Sun.