Preview: Blues v Werribee

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The Northern Blues will be looking to achieve a feat they haven’t hit since 2014. (PHOTO CREDIT: Rose Zarucky)

FOR the first time in five years, the Northern Blues will be hoping to establish a three from three record to open the 2019 season.

Back on familiar ground, the Blues return to Ikon Park after two heart-stopping wins at Geelong and Collingwood in the opening fortnight.

Hoping to back up two consecutive wins against today’s opposition, here’s everything you need to know for the Round 4 clash between Northern and Werribee.

Details: Ikon Park, Saturday, April 27, 2pm
Broadcast: The game will be live-streamed on the Carlton Football Club’s Youtube channel from 2pm.

THE GAME IN FOCUS:

An eye to the future.

That’s what typifies the Northern Blues’ line-up for the game against Werribee.

Of the 15 Carlton-listed players named to feature for Northern today, eight of them are aged 21-or-under. Another is Matthew Kennedy, who turned 22 just three weeks ago.

That’s not to say that the Blues will lack experience, with the likes of Matthew Lobbe and captain Tom Wilson joined this week by VFL premiership player, Jonathan O’Rourke.

A key addition to the Blues over the off-season, O’Rourke — a former AFL player for GWS and Hawthorn — will add a new layer to Northern’s midfield.

From a Werribee perspective, two former Blues have been named on either wing, with Kye Declase and Bior Malual previously featuring for Northern in 2017.

While Michael Barlow hasn’t been named, Werribee’s two bookends — Daniel Nielson (ex-North Melbourne) and Time House (ex-Geelong) — are threats at either end of the ground.

BLUE FOCUS:

It may be said every week, but the midfield battle looms as the most crucial in this contest.

Werribee’s midfield will be led by Matt Hanson and Tom Gribble, who have enjoyed stellar form against the Blues in previous years.

Hanson has picked up six Liston Trophy votes against Northern from the past three outings, while Gribble collected 38 disposals in last year’s match between the two sides.

However, with Sam Fisher, Matthew Kennedy and Wilson among others featuring for Northern, the Blues will back themselves in to get the job done at the feet of Matthew Lobbe and Andrew Phillips.

GET EXCITED ABOUT:

While it’s an inexperienced back six, Northern’s defensive set-up is undeniably full of talent.

Mason Blakey joins an all-Carlton contingent in defence, with Harrison Macreadie and Tom Williamson making impressive returns last weekend.

Meanwhile, Hugh Goddard has arguably been Northern’s most impressive performer this season, particularly after a standout job on Ben Reid last week.

Similar to the AFL side, the way Northern has defended as a collective has been most impressive: they’ll be looking to keep a good thing going today.

BLUE VIEW:

Can lightning strike three times for the Northern Blues in successive weeks?

While they haven’t been playing to their maximum potential, the main feature of the Blues’ opening fortnight has been their spirit and ability to grind out a result.

One thing that’s well-known about Werribee is it won’t back down either. That’s been a hallmark of its opening three weeks, in which its recorded two wins and suffered a narrow loss to Geelong.

Should Northern secure a 3-0 record for the first time in five years, they’ll have to bring the fight.

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