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Preview: Blues vs. Dogs

Howard Kotton, AFL Media  July 12, 2017 11:37 AM

Blues News | Round 17 Grace Phillips brings you all the news from Ikon Park as the Blues prepare for Sunday's clash against the Western Bulldogs.

AFL Media's Howard Kotton preview Sunday's clash with the Western Bulldogs at the MCG:

SUMMARY

With their season on a knife's edge, the Western Bulldogs return to the MCG for only the second time this season. The Bulldogs won their previous encounter at the 'G against Collingwood in round one, but have won only two of their past eight games, and their premiership defence would be in tatters if they lost to an improving Carlton on Sunday. At the start of this round the Dogs were languishing in 11th position with a poor percentage (92.4). Carlton has been brave in narrow defeats to top-four aspirants Adelaide and Melbourne in the past two games, but the loss of star midfielder Patrick Cripps will sorely test the Blues' midfield depth. Ruckman Matthew Kreuzer and skipper Marc Murphy are in excellent form and should kick-start Carlton in the engine-room, while the youngsters led by the exciting Charlie Curnow are showing plenty of promising signs.

WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Sunday, July 16, 3.20pm AEST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide

PAST FIVE TIMES

R4, 2016, Western Bulldogs 13.7 (85) d Carlton 7.7 (49) at Etihad Stadium
R14, 2015, Western Bulldogs 9.10 (64) d Carlton 7.11 (53) at Etihad Stadium
R5, 2014, Carlton 18.11 (119) d Western Bulldogs 13.13 (91) at Etihad Stadium
R20, 2013, Western Bulldogs 16.21 (117) d Carlton 13.11 (89) at Etihad Stadium
R17, 2012, Carlton 16.6 (102) d Western Bulldogs 12.12 (84) at Etihad Stadium 

THE SIX POINTS

1. The Blues struggled to score in the first half the last time these clubs met, kicking only two goals. The margin could have been bigger as the Bulldogs had many more disposals (426-336).

2. Carlton plays a kicking style of game, ranked on top with an average of 229.9 a game. But the Blues are last for handballs with an average of 138.1.

3. The Western Bulldogs have had the better of Carlton recently, winning five of seven games since 2010. The Bulldogs are  searching for three consecutive wins over the Blues for the first time since 2004-06.

4. The Bulldogs continue to be the best tackling team this season, averaging 77.4 a game. Carlton has been impressive in this category, ranked sixth at an average of 72.3.

Injury update: Find out how the Blues are shaping up for Sunday

5. In Carlton's favour is its record against the Bulldogs at the MCG, winning three of four matches. This is the Dogs' second and last 2017 game at the MCG unless they make the finals.

6. Livewire Bulldog Luke Dahlhaus remains in third position of the midfielder-forward category in the Schick AFL Player Ratings but overall he has dropped 11 places to No. 79 (416.4 points) in the past three rounds.

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Charlie Curnow

The young forward became the fifth Blue this season to win a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination last round, joining David Cuningham, Caleb Marchbank, Sam Petrevski-Seton and Jack Silvagni. He faces another big challenge on Sunday to maintain his form as the Blues seek to gain reward for effort in their past three games.