Ratten knows Blues must lift - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ratten knows Blues must lift

By Roger Vaughan 01/08/2009 02:30:42 PM Comments (0)

Carlton go into the last month of the regular AFL season knowing they must improve to achieve the finals berth that is expected of them.

The Blues looked in all sorts of trouble at times in Friday night's 10-point win over North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

Two vital goals late in the second term kept them in touch, before they dominated the third quarter with their best play of the match.

Carlton hung on grimly in the last quarter, but again can thank North's woeful inaccuracy.

The Kangaroos kicked nine behinds and one out on the full in the last term.

Nevertheless, the Blues kept seventh spot and now have 10 wins with four games left.

Their run home is tricky, but not impossible - Geelong, Port Adelaide away, Melbourne and Adelaide at Etihad Stadium.

"The game was a big one for us to win," coach Brett Ratten said.

"Did we play well? We had little moments and flickers here and there, but we've got a bit of work to do - it's more relief than anything else.

"It was ... a big game for us in the context of the season."

Ratten said it was too early to tell how many wins Carlton would need to make the finals.

They finished 11th last year and have made no secret that the top eight is their aim.

While they have won four of their last five games, all those wins have come against sides below them on the ladder and their play has often been scratchy.

A week ago, top-four contenders Collingwood belted them by 54 points.

Two major bonuses for Carlton on Friday night were the returns of midfielder Nick Stevens and utility Andrew Walker.

Stevens was a casualty of the round-13 shocker against Essendon and he was high among Carlton's best, impressing with his run and kicking.

It was also Walker's first senior game of the season after he recovered from shoulder surgery earlier this year.

Ratten thinks Walker could be the Blues' "X-factor" in the closing stages of the season.

Predictably, he looked like he needed the run, but Walker showed some promising signs and was adapting well to AFL intensity.

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