Make or break for Blues

Andrew Groves spoke to Carlton captain-coach Tim Welsford ahead of their huge day on Saturday..........


Carlton captain Tim Welsford is looking to paint the town blue not red this forthcoming weekend.

All four grades are searching for the victory they need to collect the club's first clean sweep of the season.

The firsts will be looking to lead from the front against a Trent Lawford inspired North Melbourne. He crashed a superb 113 off 85 balls on Saturday before snaring the wicket of Trent McCormick for a duck in reply.

Welsford’s troops will return in three days time chasing a victory target of 270 with nine wickets remaining in the shed with a spot in the finals at stake.

“It’s a really even contest after the weekend,” said the Blues skipper.smyth_batting_r17

“Lawford hits the ball so crisply and opens the bowling, he’s an incredible talent. But if we do what we need to do we’ll be ok.

“We can’t look too far forward (to finals), we’re simply focussing on Saturday’s game. Fingers crossed we can do it.

“All four teams have a chance of winning at the weekend. We haven’t had a Blue day all year so it would be great if we did it at the weekend.

“That’s a real possibility if we all push for the win.”

The emergence of fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom and Tom Smyth have been the positives for Carlton who have been knocking on the door in the top eight for most of the campaign. They currently sit ninth, one point behind Fitzroy Doncaster.

One area their skipper has called for an improvement is with the willow. If they are successful in making finals he knows they must be capable of spending more time at the crease and amassing bigger targets.

“That’s a big test,” he continued.

“It’s been a long year for the bowlers with a lot of cricket being played. I don’t think there’s a bowler that’s not carrying something. But the club has been great with our recovery, I can’t thank them enough.

“It’s been a long year, but there’s only a few weeks to go now, and if you can’t get up for the next few weeks then you don’t deserve to be there.”

One of the weekend’s huge fixtures saw 2011-12 Grand Finalists Dandenong and Richmond battle it out at Shepley Oval.

It was the home side who came out on top, skittling the Tigers for 119 and all but destroying the side’s hopes of back-to-back flags.

Welsford feels that won't be the only twist and turn before the season reaches its climax.

“Over the last few years you’d look at the top two and three and think they’ve got a good chance of getting through to finals. But Dandenong snuck in there a few years ago and got it right just at the right time,” he continued.

“Looking at the other sides, there are a couple who are really coming into form. Melbourne are currently at the top, St Kilda will be up there, they always are, then there’s Prahran’s bowling attack which is always strong.

"There’s some really good teams with some exciting players. We’ve just got to focus on taking ten wickets a match and creating ten chances.”

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