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Preview: Dons vs. Blues

VFL Highlights | Round 15 Watch the highlights from Carlton listed players in the Northern Blues' Round 15 win against Geelong.

AFL Media's Callum Twomey previews Saturday's clash with arch-enemy Essendon:


Carlton was too good for Essendon in round three at a drenched MCG, in a defeat that may come back to bite the Bombers in their bid for a top-eight finish. And the Blues could go a long way to ending their rivals' finals hopes with another win on Saturday. It is hard to see that happening given the form line of both teams. Brendon Bolton's Carlton has lost its past six games, has run out of puff and will enter the contest after a 65-point defeat to Geelong. The Bombers had won three straight games before last week's 30-point loss to the Western Bulldogs in a game that was important to their run to the finals. The Bombers are stuck in a logjam of clubs fighting for a September spot, and they can't afford another slip up. But nothing is ever assured in games between these clubs, so John Worsfold's men will go into the clash aware of what the Blues can produce.

WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Saturday, August 5, 2.10pm AEST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide 


R3, 2017, Carlton 7.15 (57) d Essendon 6.6 (42) at the MCG
R23, 2016, Essendon 15.13 (103) d Carlton 10.19 (79) at the MCG
R6, 2016, Carlton 10.12 (72) d Essendon 8.9 (57) at the MCG
R3, 2015, Essendon 16.9 (105) d Carlton 11.18 (84) at the MCG
R23, 2014, Carlton 14.6 (90) drew Essendon 13.12 (90) at the MCG


1. There is a big difference in the sides in scoring power. Essendon is averaging 98 points a game compared to Carlton's 72. The Bombers have kicked 100 points 10 times this season but the Blues are yet to reach triple figures.

2. Since 2015 it's two wins each between the sides. Two of the past three games have been won by a team kicking 10 goals or less. Carlton hasn't won consecutive games against the Bombers since 2011.

3. The Blues continue to be the lowest ranked handballing side this season, averaging only 133 a game. But they rank first in the competition for kicks. Essendon sits in third place for kicks a game.

4. Essendon's record at the MCG this season is solid, having won four of its six games there. Its two losses (including the round three loss to Carlton) have been 15-point defeats. Carlton has lost six of its nine games at the venue.

5. Defensively the Bombers have dropped away in the past two weeks, conceding 35 goals and with back-to-back games in which the opposition scored more than 100. The Bombers rank sixth in the league for conceding the most points in 2017.

6. Exciting youngsters Sam Petrevski-Seton and Andy McGrath figure highly in the Shick Official AFL Player Ratings for first-year players. McGrath is ranked third in the competition and Petrevski-Seton is fourth.


IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Jobe Watson

The attention will be on the former Essendon skipper this week after a poor showing in last week's loss to the Western Bulldogs. Watson, who said he will decide at the end of the season whether he plays on next year, was uncharacteristically fumbly and made some costly errors in the tight defeat.

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