Carlton has been showing steady improvement in three games under interim coach John Barker and won reward for effort last weekend with a thrilling victory over Port Adelaide. The revitalised Blues are playing with flair, moving the ball quickly and tackling with intent. While captain Gary Ablett remains on the sidelines with a shoulder complaint, the Suns look stronger with the return of several key players. But they face a big challenge to reduce the influence of in-form Blues midfielders Marc Murphy and Patrick Cripps.
WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Sunday, June 28, 3.20pm AEST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide
LAST FOUR TIMES
R20, 2014, Carlton 14.13 (97) d Gold Coast 8.10 (58) at Etihad Stadium
R18, 2013, Carlton 16.24 (120) d Gold Coast 11.11 (77) at Metricon Stadium
R22, 2012, Gold Coast 15.8 (98) d Carlton 11.20 (86) at Metricon Stadium
R2, 2011, Carlton 26.15 (171) d Gold Coast 7.10 (52) at the Gabba
THE SIX POINTS
1. The Blues dominated the Suns last time these clubs met late last season, having more disposals (375-336), marks (111-92), hit-outs (54-32), inside 50s (55-47) and scoring shots (27-18). Jarrad Waite booted five goals and Tom Bell four.
2. Carlton is the No.1 centre clearance team this season, averaging 15.1 a game. The Suns are fifth in this area at 13 a match.
3. Gold Coast has the fewest uncontested possessions this year, averaging only 187 a game. Carlton is 15th at 205.2.
4. The Suns have had only two wins in 10 matches at Etihad Stadium. The Blues have lost their past four at this venue - the past two by a combined 155 points. This is Carlton's first outing here under interim coach John Barker.
5. These teams have struggled to take the ball inside 50 this season - Carlton is 15th at an average of 47, Gold Coast 17th at 43.7.
6. When he returns Gary Ablett will resume his season at No.12 in the Official AFL Player Ratings. Before reinjuring his shoulder the Suns captain was No.1 after two rounds.
IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR …
Patrick Cripps. The young Carlton midfielder starred in last week's thrilling win and is being touted as a big chance for this year's NAB AFL Rising Star award, so he is sure to attract plenty of attention from the Suns.
PREDICTION: Carlton by 17 points.