After reviewing Adelaide, Zero Hanger gives you the low down on Carlton’s season so far
Pre-season prediction: 17th
Current position: 11th
Top-8 odds: $26 (via TopSport)
Forecast: A finish between 8-12
A new coach and a new lease of life for the Carlton Football Club has seen them exceed expectations so far in 2016. The Blues have overachieved massively from being destined to bottom out for the next few years to having an outside chance of making the top eight.
Credit doesn’t just have to go to Brendon Bolton, but his on-field leaders as well. Marc Murphy, Matthew Kreuser, Bryce Gibbs and Patrick Cripps have all been brilliant and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for a team that is surprising us all this season.
The Blues are well placed to finish in the top half of the bottom ten, four points ahead of both St Kilda and Richmond and only percentage keeping them from ninth spot. However, a tough few weeks ensues for those at Princess Park, starting with a trip to Spotless Stadium to face the high-flying Giants.
What has worked
With ball in hand, Carlton have used it to devastating effect, going at 75 per cent efficiency, the best in the competition. Michael Jamison, Kade Simpson and Sam Rowe are the major reasons behind the upsurge in disposal efficiency, but along with Lachie Plowman, Sam Docherty and Simon White, Carlton have six players using the ball at 80 per cent efficiency or more.
Due to great ball use, Carlton have limited their turnover numbers to just 61 per game, the best in the league. Geelong is second in this stat and sit top of the ladder.
It’s a big improvement from 2015 where Carlton were using the ball at 72 per cent and it shows the changes Bolton is trying to implement at the club from Hawthorn who are renowned as great ball users.
Using the ball well and cutting up teams has been crucial in wins over Collingwood, Geelong, Port Adelaide and Fremantle, just to name a few.
What hasn’t worked
Kicking a big score still remains one of Carlton’s biggest problems. For all their good ball use, their effectiveness inside 50 is not good enough. At 45 per cent, Carlton is rooted to second bottom in the competition when it comes to this stat and their lack of key forward targets will continue to hold the club back and its something Bolton needs to address.
Their top goal kicker is Andrejs Everitt with 14 followed by a host of midfielders. Levi Casboult is their number one forward target but only averages a goal a game and his kicking for goal still needs drastic improvement.
With just a goal accuracy of 47 per cent Carlton need to make the most of their chances when inside 50 as they risk getting burned on the counter attack with a inexperienced defence and a midfield that will generally get blown away by the stronger teams.
Sam Docherty is probably Carlton’s best chance of having a player in the all-Australian side, producing a very solid 2016 thus far. He has played all 12 games this season, averaging 24.9 disposals off half-back with 81 per cent disposal efficiency.
He’s the clubs second best runner, averaging 401 meters gained per game, below club champion Kade Simpson with 436 metres gained. Docherty is the seventh best intercept player in the competition averaging 7.9 intercept disposals a game.
The brilliant run and carry he provides off half-back has been crucial to the Blues’ successes so far this season and looks on track to continue this fine form in the back half of the season.
How good a pick up has Jacob Weitering been for Carlton? The No.1 pick remains one of the Rising Star favourites following an exceptional start to his senior career. His brilliant intercepting and the launches he makes from centre half-back makes him one of Carlton’s key players for the future.
Second half Expectations
At 6-6 Carlton’s draw gets a little harder. GWS, Collingwood, Adelaide, West Coast, Sydney and Hawthorn all come in the next six weeks, however, winnable games towards the end of the season against Brisbane, Melbourne and Essendon should provide them with a chance of finishing in a respectable position.
I have them losing another six games which will have them finish at 10-12 with 40 points and based on last year’s ladder, that will see the Blues retain their position in 11th which will be seen as a very successful season for all those involved in Carlton.