Marc Murphy.Carlton says its primary focus this weekend away to Port Adelaide is to strengthen its top-eight credentials, rather than confirm its place as the lucky loser if Essendon is stripped of its finals berth.
Blues captain Marc Murphy has lamented his team squandering the opportunity to beat two top-eight teams in succession, after it lost to the Bombers last Saturday night following its unexpected victory over Richmond a week earlier.
“We certainly would’ve liked to have followed up a really good performance against Richmond with a good win against Essendon obviously, (being) another top-eight side. Unfortunately we fell short again . . . probably due to our own shortcomings in front of goal,” Murphy said on Monday morning before the team’s training session at its Visy Park headquarters.
Murphy was steadfast in his belief Carlton could not obsess over the expectation that Essendon will be stripped of all premiership points for this season.
The ninth-placed Blues are best placed to progress to the finals if that occurs. They boast the second-best percentage outside the top-eight. Nearest challenger Brisbane, level with them on on 10 wins, faces a daunting trip to Geelong. North Melbourne, in 11th, is a win behind but has a superior percentage, which would come into play if the Blues lose and the Kangaroos beat Collingwood. Twelfth-placed Adelaide is also a win behind Carlton and has an inferior percentage but arguably has the best chance to win of any of the teams just outside the eight, as it will play beleaguered West Coast in Perth.
“In terms of what’s happening at AFL House it’s really out of our control,” Murphy said.
“We can’t really speculate on what’s going to happen this week with Essendon. We just want to put in a good performance against a good side, in Port, as much for ourselves as for our supporters and members.”
First-year skipper Murphy was complimentary of the Power, who have surged up the ladder after finishing 14th last season.
“Port are very good side that have played some very good footy, especially over the past month. They were probably a bit disappointing against Fremantle on the weekend but they’ve played some really good, close games and got over the line,” he said.
“I haven’t watched them too closely but they’ve obviously got some really good young players that have stepped up. (Chad) Wingard (is in that category), and Travis Boak is a really good player. (Kane) Cornes although being an older player has done some really good jobs and also still finds the footy himself (while) he shuts down blokes. There’s been a lot of improvement from a lot of their players. They’re a pretty handy side.”
Murphy nevertheless agreed Carlton would be encouraged by both having beaten Port at home earlier this season and also by having won four of its past five matches against the Power at AAMI Stadium, which will host its last AFL match this weekend.
“It’s a must-win anyway, like Essendon was on the weekend,” he said.
“We’ve played some good footy over there (at AAMI Stadium) recently, we enjoy playing on the big ground over there.”
The captain stressed he was eager to lead by example in the Saturday twilight match, especially so because of his subdued performances this season.
“I’m looking forward to playing a really good one this weekend and getting the boys over the line,” he said.
Murphy confirmed he was likely to undergo post-season knee surgery, in a bid to “get some power back in my legs”.
Carlton expects to be bolstered this weekend by two players who were late withdrawals against the Bombers, Matthew Kreuzer (calf) and Andrew Walker (gastro). Murphy said he expects Brock McLean (quad) to be missing and was unsure of the likely availability of Heath Scotland (quad).
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