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Mid-season review

Carlton's mid-season report card Veteran journalist Howard Kotton joins Jen Phelan to look at the Blues season so far

AFL Media's Howard Kotton reviews the first half of Carlton's 2017 season:


Carlton’s season cannot be measured purely by wins and losses. While the Blues sit 17th with only three wins, two fewer than at the same stage in Brendon Bolton’s first season last year, they have played an equal-competition high six debutants and undeniably there has been growth within the group, particularly among the club’s batch of emerging youngsters. Carlton’s experienced players have shown the way, led by skipper Marc Murphy. Matthew Kreuzer and Sam Docherty are in All-Australian form, Bryce Gibbs and Ed Curnow have been consistent performers and Patrick Cripps has overcome a slow start to hit top form recently.

Quarters won: 16

Players used: 32

Yet to play: Blaine Boekhorst, Dylan Buckley, Ciaran Byrne, Andrew Gallucci, Jesse Glass-McCasker, Daniel Gorringe, Kristian Jaksch, Liam Jones, Patrick Kerr, Matt Korcheck, Jed Lamb, Kym Lebois, Harry McKay, Ciaran Sheehan.


Disposals: Marc Murphy (302)
Marks: Sam Docherty (95)
Goals: Levi Casboult (17)
Tackles: Patrick Cripps (60)
Metres gained: Sam Docherty (avg: 508)
Tackles in defensive 50: Caleb Marchbank (18)


Round 7 against Collingwood. While there were plenty of smiles after the hard-fought victory in the wet against arch rival Essendon in round three, the Blues were in control all day against their other major nemesis Collingwood and managed to sour the Magpies' 125th anniversary celebrations.


Round 2 against Melbourne. Carlton took it right up to the Demons, leading at three-quarter time before relinquishing the advantage early in the last term and going down in a gallant performance.

Best and fairest leader: Marc Murphy


Surprise packet: Tom Williamson

Who's struggling: Sam Kerridge, Rhys Palmer and Billie Smedts have been given their chances at senior level, but have failed to secure regular spots.


Andrew Phillips - played 16 games in his first season with the Blues last year, but a stress reaction in his left foot interrupted his pre-season preparation and he has managed only one senior game this year when the in-form Matthew Kreuzer was rested in Round 5. The question remains: Can the Blues play both of them in the same side?


While the lack of scoring power remains the Blues' biggest worry (the only team not to kick 100 goals in total this season), they have been in winning positions late in games against Melbourne, St Kilda and North Melbourne only to be overrun – underlining their lack of midfield depth.


At the start of the season it would have been 7-8 wins and that still stands. The growth and development of Carlton’s emerging young brigade must continue in its remaining 12 games.


The Blues are playing as a more cohesive, selfless unit and are a hard team to score against, which Bolton must take a fair amount of credit for. Understandably he is not satisfied with gallant losses and will drive his players to a stronger finish than in 2016.


Sam Rowe was a lock at full-back in the starting 18 until rupturing his ACL in Round 9. David Cuningham, Zac Fisher, Sam Petrevski-Seton and Tom Williamson have done enough to earn spots, while Alex Silvagni has fitted in well to shore up a solid defensive unit.


B: Alex Silvagni, Jacob Weitering, Lachie Plowman 
HB: Sam Docherty, Caleb Marchbank, Tom Williamson
C: Kade Simpson, Bryce Gibbs, Ed Curnow
HF: Matthew Wright, Charlie Curnow, Dale Thomas
F: Jack Silvagni, Levi Casboult, Sam Petrevski-Seton
Foll: Matthew Kreuzer, Patrick Cripps, Marc Murphy
I/C: David Cuningham, Zac Fisher, Nick Graham, Simon White

In from pre-season best 22: David Cuningham, Nick Graham, Zac Fisher, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Alex Silvagni, Tom Williamson.

Out from pre-season best 22: Dennis Armfield, Sam Kerridge, Rhys Palmer, Jarrod Pickett, Sam Rowe, Billie Smedts.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs