Carlton vice-captain Andrew Carrazzo says it is incumbent on its leaders to restore the team’s dented confidence as the Blues zero in on weak points in Geelong’s game.
Gearing themselves for a Geelong onslaught on Friday night, Carrazzo said the Blues had taken lessons out of how Fremantle and Sydney had halted Geelong’s running machine in the past month, but it was up to himself, captain Marc Murphy and other experienced players to set the tone.
The Blues on Thursday resisted the urge to rush back star midfielder Chris Judd but gain another important leader in running defender Andrew Walker, who returns from injury alongside Dennis Armfield for the match at Etihad Stadium.
The Cats, meanwhile, will be without Travis Varcoe after it emerged the speedy playmaker would miss the game due to a family funeral in Adelaide on Friday, although the club is hopeful he will be ready to play in the VFL on Saturday.
Geelong’s defence, as expected, will be bolstered significantly by the returns of Tom Lonergan and Corey Enright, and Andrew Mackie has also recovered from the back injury he sustained in last week’s embarrassing 110-point loss to Sydney.
While Carrazzo did not identity the specific areas the Blues would attack against Geelong, a theme throughout the Cats’ three losses this season has been stopping them at the contest.
Geelong has won the contested ball count six times for six wins, an indicator that when Chris Scott’s team is up for the fight around the ball, its ability to move it and score on the outside is as good as any.
Drill down even further and you realise just how pivotal it is to stop Geelong on the inside, with the Cats having won the contested possession count in 18 of their 40 quarters this season – allowing them to win 17 of those quarters on the scoreboard – the highest success rate of any team, ahead of ladder-leader Port Adelaide and Hawthorn.
On the flip side, the Cats have lost the key indicator in all three of their losses.
Despite sitting sixth on the ladder at 7-3, the Cats rank 15th for contested possessions and 17th for clearances, a fact not lost on the Blues’ coaching staff, especially as they scouted Geelong’s losses to the Dockers and the Swans.
‘‘You look at how they were played against the last four weeks ... and the loss to the Swans was obviously in the block so we take some stuff out of it, for sure,’’ Carrazzo said on Thursday.
The Blues will back themselves to challenge the Cats in close, given they rank sixth for contested ball this season.
While acknowledging that Geelong is expected to attack the game with renewed intensity after last week’s shock 110-point demolition at the hands of Sydney, Carrazzo said the Blues were keen to respond to their own upset loss to the Brisbane Lions.
Geelong utility Mark Blicavs said on Thursday the Cats had been waiting for their chance to atone for the loss to Sydney as soon as the siren sounded last Friday night.
‘‘Every loss stings, but you just felt a bit helpless on the ground last week, so it’s something we are really looking forward to and have been as soon as the siren went last week,’’ he said.