Fresh from their impressive win over Fremantle last week, Carlton will be looking to keep the pressure on at the top of the AFL ladder when they take on a St Kilda side heading in the opposite direction.
Carlton have impressed under new coach Michael Voss this season and have made a rapid rise up the ladder, however the performance against fellow flag hopefuls Freo was the best yet.
It resulted in a number of pundits and commentators saying they played a brand of football worthy of a premiership team. But now they need to back it up against a struggling St Kilda side.
Saints looked on course for a place in the top eight and although finals footy has not gone out of the window just yet they need to get back on track after three defeats on the spin.
The powers that be have jumped to the defence of under-fire coach Brett Ratten but they need to start getting results on the pitch or the questions will continue to be asked.
There is plenty on the line heading into Friday night’s clash at Marvel Stadium so let’s take a closer look at both sides as they prepare to do battle under the lights.
What: Carlton v St Kilda
Where: Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
When: 19:50 (AEST), Friday 1st July, 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Carlton 31/50, St Kilda 13/10
Carlton shine at Marvel Stadium
Carlton have gone from top-eight hopefuls to genuine title contenders in a short space of time.
This time last year they were struggling for results under then coach David Teague and the club were going through a review of the footy department that eventually resulted in the coach losing his job at the end of the season.
The turnaround under Voss has been remarkable. They sit fifth on the ladder but level on points with the three teams directly above them.
The Blues boast a 10-4 win-loss record but it was the victory over the Dockers last week that really made people stand up and take notice.
Freo have been flying but Carlton put them to the sword with a 31-point win. As good as the win was, Voss will know it will not count for much if they slip up against St Kilda.
Now people are talking about them as flag contenders, the pressure will be on to perform week in, week out between now and the end of the season.
Voss has warned his players about a wounded St Kilda and is expecting the opposition to come out firing. However the Blues do have an outstanding record at Marvel Stadium and have won all five games they have played at the venue this season.
They could move into the top four with a win this weekend but could drop to seventh if they lose and other results go against them. So there is a lot at stake.
Carlton are also boosted by the news captain Jacob Weitering is closing in on a return to action following shoulder surgery. However it looks as though the clash with St Kilda comes a touch too soon and next week’s game against West Coast in Perth is more likely.
Jack Martin has also been ruled out with a calf injury but there is a chance small forward Matt Owies could figure if he recovers from his own calf problem.
Saints in need of a lift
All was rosy in the St Kilda garden as they chalked up an 8-3 win-loss record to put them right in the mix for finals footy but three defeats on the bounce have seen them slip to 10th spot on the ladder.
They are level with the eighth-placed Bulldogs on 32 points but have a tough run of fixtures coming up and need to find some form quickly.
After the Carlton game they face Fremantle and then the Bulldogs, before easier games on paper against West Coast and Hawthorn.
Saints are not being helped by issues away from the field either. Ratten is out of contract at the end of the year and has yet to sign a new one.
Despite getting the backing of the board he still has to field questions about his future. A row involving star duo Paddy Ryder and Bradley Hill has also dominated the news this week.
It was a distraction that St Kilda could have done without ahead of such a big game.
St Kilda do have some good news to report ahead of the game though with Rowan Marshall turning down rival clubs to pen a new bumper five-year deal.
Ratten will be hoping the news will give the whole club a lift going into the Carlton game and help them get the result.
In team news Ratten has made big changes from last week with Ben Long, Ben Paton, Cooper Sharman, Darragh Joyce and Ryan Byrnes all left out.