AFL Blues prepare for Perth raid - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL Blues prepare for Perth raid

By Roger Vaughan 11/09/2011 08:50:44 PM Comments (0)

Having obliterated their AFL elimination final hoodoo, Carlton are pointing to their strong record on the road as they prepare for West Coast's Fortress Subiaco.

The Blues thrashed arch-rivals Essendon by 62 points on Sunday at the MCG to progress to Saturday night's semi-final against the Eagles at Patersons Stadium.

Blues coach Brett Ratten admitted to feeling a mix of relief and excitement after the 21.23 (149) to 13.9 (87) demolition of the Bombers, which followed heart-breaking losses in their previous two elimination finals.

It was Carlton's first finals win since 2001, also the last season they hosted a final.

The Eagles will start favourites, having pushed Collingwood hard on the way to a 20-point qualifying final loss on Saturday at the MCG.

West Coast also have not lost at home since round three. They also beat Carlton by 36 points in round 14 at Etihad Stadium.

But Carlton have won their four interstate matches this season, most recently beating Fremantle at Patersons Stadium in round 21.

They have also won four of their past five matches in Perth.

"We haven't lost on the road this year (and) just to get the group together and travel again, I think we have a really good routine," Ratten said.

"What it does do is bring the group together and I suppose the unity and tightness of the group gels.

"It's really good for us to go away and confront them on a ground that will be hostile, they played pretty good footy yesterday."

Ratten singled out Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui, calling his form against Collingwood "frightening", but added their ruckman Robbie Warnock performed well on Sunday.

The Blues are also hopeful of regaining No.1 big man Matthew Kreuzer, who missed the elimination final with a foot injury.

Ratten spoke of his pride at how well the Blues played against Essendon, but added it was only the first step in their finals journey.

He would not speak about what the win means to his own future, given Ratten is out of contract at the end of the season and badly needed this result.

"It's my best highlight as a coach, just to win a final," he said.

"It's up there ... we have won a final, which is a great tribute to the group, but we've got a lot of work to do."

Essendon coach James Hird was bitterly disappointed to end the season so badly, but was pleased with the team's development in his first year.

"My opinion is we've improved dramatically," he said.

"We've had a chance in almost every game. Today we didn't."

Collingwood kicked the last two goals on Saturday to beat West Coast 12.10 (82) to 9.8 (62).

Hawthorn will host Sydney on Friday night at the MCG in the other semi-final.

The Hawks were dealt a massive blow when star forward Lance Franklin limped off with a knee injury near the end of Friday night's 31-point qualifying final loss to Geelong.

The Cats joined Collingwood in gaining a week's rest with an impressive 14.14 (98) to 9.13 (67) win.

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon was pondering whether it was the end of an era after Sydney beat his side by 25 points in Saturday night's elimination final at Etihad Stadium, 12.10 (82) to 8.9 (57).

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