Round 23 Match Preview: Carlton vs St Kilda

By Nick Ciantar.
twitter: nick_saint13

Round 23,

Sunday 1.10pm, Etihad Stadium.

Carlton:

The Blues were shocked by a fast starting Gold Coast team last round, to lose by 12 points up at Metricon Stadium. They are now officially out of the finals. The ramifications of that game led to coach Brett Ratten being sacked by the club. After a dignified speech to the media on Thursday, Ratten will coach the last game of the year against St Kilda.

Carlton will go into this game to give the kids a taste of AFL footy. After their VFL affiliate, the Northern Blues finished their season last week, Pat McCarthy and Luke Mitchell will debut for the club. After an impressive first half of 2012, Carlton succumbed to injuries and had an ordinary second half of the season.

St Kilda:

St Kilda defeated Greater Western Sydney by 128 points last Saturday. At the end of the game they still had the slightest chance of making finals, however their dreams ended when Fremantle defeated North Melbourne on Sunday.

With their VFL affiliate Sandringham playing an elimination final against Box Hill (Hawthorn), Watters has brought a full strength team in against Carlton. As this game is a ‘dead rubber’, Watters will test his young players in a finals type game in the VFL. With Nick Riewoldt (knee), Sam Gilbert (shoulder), Adam Schneider (foot) and Sam Fisher (toe) all out, Watters may experiment by putting players in different positions.  Nonetheless, Watters will want to end the year with a win, however he will have one eye on the future of the club.

Key Players:
Carlton:

Chris Judd, Matthew Kreuzer, Bryce Gibbs, Heath Scotland, Marc Murphy.

St Kilda:

Lenny Hayes, Nick Dal Santo, Brendon Goddard, Rhys Stanley, Stephen Milne.

Who’s Missing:

Carlton:

Shaun Hampson, Lachie Henderson, Michael Jamieson, Jeremy Laidler, Robbie Warnock, Matthew Watson.

St Kilda:

Nick Riewoldt, Adam Schneider, Sam Fisher, Dean Polo, Sam Gilbert, Jason Blake, Justin Koschitzke.

Key Match Ups:
Marc Murphy vs. Nick Dal Santo:
Both players are stars of the competition and are both known for their ‘silky skills’. Murphy, the up and coming star of the Blues midfield, has only played the 15 games this year due to a serious shoulder injury. Dal Santo has played every game this year and has averaged 23.8 disposals and kicked 17 goals. Both are stars and will line up on each other at some stage of the game.

Andrew Walker vs. Brendon Goddard:

Walker has been named to play in defence and I suspect that Goddard will play the majority of the game in the forward line. Walker has been used in a variety of positions this year due to the amount of injuries the club had. The same has happened for Goddard, but for different reasons. Goddard is most damaging as a half back, however he can change the momentum of games when playing up forward. Walker stands at 190cm and 89kg, whilst Goddard at 189cm and 93 kg. This is an ideal body-match up and it will be interesting to see who can come out on top.

Prediction:
Both teams cannot make finals and both teams will tweak their game style and structures. The Blues may do less of this, as Ratten will not be there next year, however Watters will have one eye on the Saints future.

Both teams are evenly matched statistically, however the Blues have a big advantage in clearances (ranked 4th to Saints 11th). The Blues will need to win the ball out of the midfield first as the Saints are the 4th most attacking team in the league (Blues 11th). St Kilda may be without their ‘twin towers’ in Nick Riewoldt (47 goals) and Justin Koschitzke (27 goals), but they still boast Stephen Milne (55 goals) and Ahmed Saad (27 goals). Carlton will need to find a way to stop a small attacking forward line.

The game may be a ‘dead rubber’, however there will still be some fascinating duels. In the midfield; Chris Judd, Marc Murphy, Andrew Carrazzo and Kade Simpson for the Blues, whilst Lenny Hayes, Nick Dal Santo, Leigh Montagna and David Armitage for the Saints. The midfield battle will be pivotal as both teams have holes in their defences.

St Kilda has the stronger team and has the better form. It is hard to judge how the Carlton players will go into the game after a tough week. St Kilda will be too strong and the St Kilda small forwards of Milne and Saad may be the difference.

St Kilda by 25 points.

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