Growing player stocks sharpen AFL's Blues - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Growing player stocks sharpen AFL's Blues

By Sam Lienert and Guy Hand 12/06/2011 07:34:53 PM Comments (0)

Carlton's expanding list of fit players is creating a ruthless edge as the Blues push for their first AFL finals double chance in more than a decade.

Carlton notched their sixth win in seven games, the past three by big margins, with a 19.10 (124) to 9.9 (63) thrashing of Brisbane at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Andrew Walker kicked five goals and midfielders Chris Judd and Marc Murphy were again outstanding.

Carlton replaced Hawthorn in third spot.

And after the fourth-placed Hawks lost Jarryd Roughead for the season to an Achilles tendon injury on Saturday night, the Blues were buoyed by players making successful returns.

Most delighting Carlton fans was the comeback of Matthew Kreuzer, after almost a year sidelined by a knee injury.

The talented young ruckman gathered 13 touches and 12 hit-outs, playing mostly in attack.

Key forward Lachie Henderson also impressed on return, in just his second game this year, with 10 marks, while key defender Paul Bower played his first game of the season, as a substitute.

With the Blues having won comfortably against Port Adelaide, Melbourne and now Brisbane in their most recent matches, coach Brett Ratten said the growing depth ensured a relentless approach.

"We've got good numbers on the (training) track and that creates a good environment for them to keep pushing and not become complacent," Ratten said.

"That's important for us going forward, to make sure we don't get any complacency, thinking 'It's great to have eight wins up'.

"It would be nice to keep that attitude, really pushing hard to make sure we squeeze every inch out of everyone this season.

"Footy passes you by too quickly, and we want to make sure we don't lose the momentum."

In contrast, Essendon's momentum is all down hill, the Bombers suffering a third straight defeat, a 15.8 (98) to 9.10 (64) loss to Fremantle at Patersons Stadium.

The Dockers climbed to seventh, demoting Essendon to eighth, just one win and percentage ahead of Melbourne (ninth), St Kilda (10th) and Richmond (11th).

The Demons have the chance to close the gap further when they play Collingwood at the MCG on Monday.

Sydney (fifth) moved within two points of the Hawks with a 9.21 (75) to 9.11 (65) win over Richmond at the SCG, the Swans' third straight victory.

Geelong remain unbeaten on top after their five-point win over the Hawks on Saturday night, their fourth victory by less than a goal this season.

The Saints are back in the finals hunt, after downing the Western Bulldogs by four goals at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, although they face a tough clash with the Cats this Saturday night.

West Coast (sixth) thumped Adelaide by 39 points at AAMI Stadium on Saturday, the Crows' fourth big loss in as many games heaping pressure on coach Neil Craig.

North Melbourne thrashed Gold Coast by 59 points at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night, with captain Brent Harvey kicking four goals as he broke the Kangaroos' games record.

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