Carton coach Brendon Bolton was proud of the way his club responded to last week's horror show against Fremantle, praising the banged-up Blues after they grittily ran in-form Collingwood to within four goals on Sunday.
Boltons side had little luck, losing Levi Casboult (finger) pre-game, before Lachie Plowman (knee) and Matthew Kreuzer (ankle) went down, meaning neither played a role in the second half.
However led by the brilliance of young leaders Patrick Cripps and Charlie Curnow, Carlton persisted, ultimately falling by 20 points at the MCG.
Carlton remain bottom of the ladder with just one win from 13 games, but Bolton was keen to take a big picture perspective, suggesting his team had largely performed well over their last month of football, with the obvious exception of the loss to the Dockers in which the Blues were held goalless to half time.
“I thought against Geelong, Sydney, not at the level against Freo in the first half, but this game again back where we needed to be. So I thought considering the adversity that we faced with injury, last weeks performance, coming up against a team thats probably got the most scoring power in the comp after the last month,” Bolton said.
“Im really pleased considering all those layers.
“When youre growing, its not as linear as youd like. By and large, theres a lot going right, if we look at the last month of footy, versus a half. Last weeks first half was not anywhere near the standard.
“I was proud of our football club that they didnt catastrophise that. They accepted it, owned it, worked hard. Our president Mark LoGiudice, on message, [football chief] Andrew McKay, on message, [list manager] Stephen Silvagni, on message, I'm on message. We're doing this together. We've got a lot of work to do, we've got a heap of work to do. We're up for the fight."
While they will be counting the cost from Sunday, the Blues are hopeful captain Marc Murphy will return from his foot injury to take on Port Adelaide at the MCG next Saturday in what will be veteran Kade Simpsons 300th game.
Plowman needed to be carted off the ground following a nasty collision, and looks to be facing a significant stint on the sidelines, while Kreuzer and Casboult will also be assessed.
“I think theres some bone bruising and potential ligament damage, so well just have to wait and see. Get it scanned and well be able to be definitive, but youd think hed miss weeks. Im not sure how many though,” Bolton said.
“'Kreuz' rolled his ankle, thatll be the same, well have to get that scanned and check ligament damage, but when players dont complete games I reckon its usually not a great sign for the following week.
“[Casboult] dislocated his finger but there was some opening of the skin. So, not a great start!”
Bolton said the injuries to talls Kreuzer and Casboult had affected the balance of the side.
“Whenever you lose players in your spine youve got to adjust. But to the players credit, they dug really deep, considering that adversity."
Bolton spoke glowingly of both Cripps and Curnow, noting how Curnows level of intensity at training during the week, and Cripps post-match address to the team in which he told the players they needed to replicate Sundays effort levels every week.
Bolton also urged his players to win for Simpson next weekend. “I dont know if words can summarise what he embodies at our football club.”
Daniel is an Age sports reporter.
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