Brett Ratten
Brett Ratten

If Carlton produced a repeat of their last match against Gold Coast the Blues would be set up perfectly for a final-round raid on the top eight - but coach Brett Ratten knows Saturday night's clash with the Suns won't be that simple.

The Blues haven't faced the tourist strip side since Round 2 last year - in the expansion club's first ever AFL match - which they won by 119 points.

As the Suns blooded 12 unknown debutants, Carlton went through the motions in celebrating Chris Judd's 200th game with an easy, effortless victory.

But a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.

That game was held at the Gabba because work on Gold Coast's refurbished home, Metricon Stadium, was still months away from completion.

And while Guy McKenna's men remain in the doldrums of the AFL ladder, they are no longer the pushovers they once were - not even with 19 men injured and utility Jared Brennan banished to the seconds.

Ratten was at the MCG to see a resilient Coast outfit go toe-to-toe with flag fancies Hawthorn last weekend, before fading away in the final term to lose by 64 points.

By Ratten's maths, the Suns are a 'six-goal better team' at Carrara - so he admits the Blues will have their work cut out for them to keep their faint finals dreams alive.

"We know exactly where we sit," he said.

"Four points is so critical to us and we're not worried about margins or whatever, we just need the four points to keep going with that little bit of hope with finals."

But the reality is not even a win here and another next week over St Kilda will guarantee them a spot in September.

Carlton sits in ninth spot, a win below Fremantle and two behind sixth-placed North Melbourne and seventh-placed Geelong.

As fate would have it, the Kangaroos and the Dockers will do battle on Sunday, which means the door will swing open for the Blues if they take away a comfortable win from the Gold Coast and North notch a win.

Ratten, however, is trying his best not to gaze into his crystal ball.

"It's going to be how we apply ourselves to the game," he said.

"If we play well, we give ourselves an opportunity to kick a good score and if we don't play so well, we take the foot off the accelerator, we'll make hard work of it.

"It takes a lot of time for kids to grow and mature, and (the Suns are) going really well for a young team. They're very dangerous.

"They've got a lot of talent there and when you look at (Gary) Ablett, who's getting 40 (possessions) every week, that's something that we have to be mindful of.

"We've seen them run the Kangaroos to a kick, Essendon to a kick ... their form up here is something you really have to respect."


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