Blues respond to Ratten's challenge - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blues respond to Ratten's challenge

By Adam Cooper 15/06/2008 08:00:48 PM Comments (0)

Carlton coach Brett Ratten asked the question and the answer has the Blues breathing rarefied air - inside the AFL's top eight.

In arguably the club's sweetest day after six-and-a-half mostly painful seasons, Carlton beat arch rival Collingwood before a crowd of 80,310 at the MCG to take a giant stride into the top half of the ladder.

The Blues' 17.17 (119) to 12.17 (89) win put them in the eight for just the third time since they played finals in 2001, having spent a week there early in 2004 and the first two rounds there in 2006.

The victory featured eight goals to Brendan Fevola and a final-quarter tally of eight goals to three after Ratten demanded at three-quarter time to know how much they wanted to seize their moment.

"I spoke to the players about 'Well, this is what we play for, isn't it?'" Ratten said.

"80,000 (people watching), the chance to make the eight, how much do we want it versus them?

"I asked the group for a big lift in that last quarter because that's why you play footy, to be challenged against a very good team (before) 80,000 people.

"You get to see where you are individually and as a team and I thought our group was outstanding."

Ratten said the result was "fantastic" for Carlton supporters who had endured the worst run of the club's history.

But he challenged his players to raise their performances even higher if Carlton are to do what many thought could not happen in Ratten's first full season in charge - play finals.

"The hard work starts for us now, this is when it really starts," he said.

"As a group we need to roll our sleeves up and get down and dirty and push through this.

"There are ten games to go and if we're good enough as a group we'll make the eight. If we're not, we won't."

After watching Fevola and Carlton captain Chris Judd play pivotal roles, Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse admitted his side lacked the "dynamic" players other sides had, especially when his players were down.

"Does that mean we are not a good side?" Malthouse pondered.

"We are an even side and if we don't play even football we put too much load on one area and today we let each other down."

Carlton moved into the eight at the expense of North Melbourne, thrashed by 53 points by Fremantle at Subiaco Oval on Saturday, and lost ruckman Hamish McIntosh to a knee injury for at least two months.

That was the most notable positional change in round 12, although Geelong regained top spot on the ladder by thrashing Port Adelaide 15.18 (108) to 7.7 (49) at Skilled Stadium.

The Cats lead on percentage from Hawthorn, who on Saturday night beat Adelaide by four points at AAMI Stadium.

Hawthorn's win was their first over the Crows in Adelaide since 1994, but could come at a cost, as star forward Lance Franklin was reported for a high bump on Michael Doughty.

The Western Bulldogs remained third after thrashing the Brisbane Lions by 63 points at the MCG.

Sydney, who welcomed Barry Hall back into the fray after his seven-game suspension, beat St Kilda at the SCG on Saturday night to overtake the Crows and move into fourth spot.

Richmond on Sunday night overcame a couple of scares against bottom side Melbourne to win by 22 points at Telstra Dome, 16.20 (116) to 14.10 (94).

Essendon began the round by beating West Coast by 22 points at Telstra Dome on Friday night, to snap an eight-game losing streak.

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