The Opposition: Round 4 v Carlton

One more day until we’re at our home away from home, the place where we’ve had the most success in recent years – 10 wins from our last 12 matches.

Carlton has three changes, but as we know, games at Blundstone Arena don’t tend to follow the standard trend from … any other ground in the country, so today we’ll look at a few general Blues trends rather than individuals.

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Caught between two methods

In Brendon Bolton’s first two seasons, Carlton’s focus was defence first, maintain possession second, then defence third, and to finish it off maintain possession for a little bit longer.

It’s not a negative; rather how Bolton opted to lay down his first footprint on the list. 2018 was supposed to bring the first signs of improved offensive play, while also keeping that defensive foundation sturdy.

The extra points on the scoreboard were supposed to come from creating more turnovers. But in the Blues’ quest to be more aggressive without the ball, at times they have opened themselves up horrifically.

Here’s a very informative Twitter thread detailing where they’re breaking down

The teething problems have resulted in an average of 107 points conceded per game, and it could have been much more, particularly in the first fortnight. It takes time to bed in a new system, and this is what we’re seeing play out in each of the three losses.

However, a game at Blundstone Arena may come at the perfect time for Carlton. The game is simplified in Hobart.

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Back to basics

Save for unexpected conditions, we’ll see a similar game flow at Blundstone Arena to what we’ve watched in the last few seasons. The team kicking to the right of screen controls the tempo, while the team kicking to the left of screen defends. It sounds simple because when there’s at least a three to four goal wind favouring one side of the ground, it is simple.

So, an aggressive press when you’re defending against the wind doesn’t really work, because you’ll see the ball get kicked straight over it.

It may mean the mindset is scaled back a little bit without the ball to a version of Carlton we were more familiar with watching in 2016 and 2017. Don’t underestimate the power of going back to your comfort zone after struggling outside of it.

That still leaves the question of how Carlton defends in the two quarters when it has the wind. The aggressive press could work to keep North pinned deep. Or if it breaks down as we saw in the linked Twitter thread, it could lead to plenty of Kangaroo coast-to-coast goals.

Who the Blues are missing

There are a few missing for Carlton, obviously led by Sam Docherty’s season ending knee injury. Alex Silvagni would be handy for the Blues at the moment, but he’s out with a hamstring and has been joined this week by Caleb Marchbank and his ankle injury.

Jarrod Pickett is another long-term absentee, while Tom Williamson showed signs in 2017 but has been out with a lingering back issue. Add Ciaran Byrne and Darcy Lang as players around their best 22 and it’s a lengthy list of valuable Blues.

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We’ve got (at least) two more posts this week; the Saturday morning preview and the Sunday morning review. Depending on the result, we may have an extra post or two on the Sunday – consider this the advance notice.

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