If there was still some lingering optimism surrounding Carlton’s finals hopes this year, it was emphatically extinguished on Sunday after the side suffered a shattering defeat to an injury-ravaged West Coast line-up at the SCG.
The result saw West Coast break a 22-year drought at the SCG, having lost their previous nine games at the ground by an average of 34 points and for the first time in their 35-year history, the Eagles have beaten Carlton seven times in a row.
The Eagles were missing Jeremy McGovern (knee), Luke Shuey (hamstring), Josh Kennedy (soreness), Tim Kelly (knee), Oscar Allen (concussion), Liam Duggan (knee), Brendon Ah Chee (calf), Jarrod Brander (adductor) and Alex Witherden (groin), but that didn’t stop them from registering their gutsiest win of the year to the tune of 22 points.
They also lost Brad Sheppard in the first quarter due to concussion, but in their stead, reliable hands Liam Ryan, Dom Sheed, Andrew Gaff, Nic Naitanui and Elliot Yeo stood tall to ensure their side a two-game cushion inside the top eight.
The season-derailing result for Carlton was compounded by the loss of star forward Harry McKay in the first quarter due to concussion, while Nic Newman suffered the same fate in the third. The silver lining for both players is that Carlton’s next game is in 13 days’ time against GWS, which means they could be cleared to play if they both recover adequately within the 12-day protocol period.
Carlton has now lost all seven games against top-eight sides this season, following defeats to Richmond, Port Adelaide, Brisbane, the Bulldogs, Melbourne and Sydney as well, and they now sit three games outside the top eight.
With their bold pre-season finals ambitions in tatters, coach David Teague is sure to come under the fiercest scrutiny of his short time in charge.