Realistically they are both outside chances to make the finals, with Richmond sitting in 12th spot on the ladder and Carlton a win ahead in 11th spot. Richmond would need to win every game and still, that may not be enough.
Carlton are slightly better placed but it would still take a massive effort, with all their injuries, to make the top eight. Neither team can afford to drop a game so this week is basically an elimination final.
The Blues have had a horrific run with injuries but may well get a few key players back this week. Mitch Robinson was a late withdrawal last week with calf tightness and will undergo a test along with Matthew Kreuzer, Kane Lucas and Zach Tuohy.
It’s always going to be tough with 10 of your best players missing and you can’t replace a champion like Chris Judd so his four-week suspension is really going to hurt the Blues. Marc Murphy is stand-in captain and in his third game back from a shoulder injury, I think he will hit some good form really soon.
I would love to see Bryce Gibbs start in the middle for this game. He played a tagging role last week and pushed forward to kick a few goals but he’s such a classy player that he would really bolster the Blues’ midfield.
Eddie Betts is the one the Tigers need to watch out for up forward. He didn’t have a huge game last week but he stood up when it counted and virtually won the game for them. He will be really hard to stop and the Tigers will be relying on Steven Morris, who was in great form last week, to get the job done.
Trent Cotchin is the key player for Richmond, as he has been all season, and I think Andrew Carrazzo will be the one to try and shut him down. Carrazzo went to Dustin Martin earlier in the year but the Blues can’t afford to let Cotchin run free.
The Tigers have also been hurt by injuries and have struggled without Nathan Foley in the midfield. Martin played his first game back from suspension last week and may well provide the spark for Richmond if Cotchin is tagged.
Jack Riewoldt has had an up and down season but this could be a big game for him. The Blues are undermanned in defence although Michael Jamison is more than just a handy backman and was pushing for All-Australian selection last year. But the worry for the Blues is that if Jack gets some goals early, they don’t really have a plan B to stop him.
The Tigers have a deplorable record against Carlton, losing the last eight straight, and suffering a 44-point loss in the first game of the season. Usually I would say that past games don’t count but sometimes history really does mean something and Carlton certainly have the wood on the Tigers.
Carlton had a really hard fought win last week but the Tigers have bounced back after their horrible loss to the Gold Coast. They might have gone down to North Melbourne but they were very competitive and the Kangaroos are one of the form teams of the competition.
Richmond should win this one and I’m tipping the Tigers by 24 points.
Matthew Richardson is a Channel 7 commentator.
Telecast times for Saturday Night Football:
Carlton v Richmond
Melbourne 6.30pm LIVE on Channel 7
Adelaide 6-6.30pm LIVE on 7mate, 6.30pm LIVE on Channel 7Perth 5pm-6pm on Channel 7, 6.30pm on Channel 7