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Bolton: Inexperience no excuse

Callum Twomey, AFL Media  June 26, 2017 7:49 AM

Post-match | Brendon Bolton Brendon Bolton spoke to the media after Carlton's loss to Richmond in Round 14.

Carlton won't use its inexperience as an excuse for its inconsistency, after the Blues followed two strong wins with a flat display in their loss to Richmond on Sunday.

The Blues led the Tigers by four points at quarter time after booting four goals in the opening term, but then managed just four more goals for the day as Richmond controlled the contest.

Although Carlton rallied at stages, it never really threatened to take the game away from Richmond after that early period, with the 26-point margin (and 62 to 41 inside-50 entries) a fair reflection of the gap between the sides.

Coach Brendon Bolton acknowledged the Blues' youth could sometimes lead to ups and downs within games and the season, but said they couldn't rest on that as an explanation to the MCG defeat.

"[Inconsistencies] do happen but we will never use that as an excuse. We're really clear on that. We hold incredibly high standards and this footy club will continue to hold high standards so we'll never have that as an out," he said after the loss.

"The game requires you to back up week-in, week-out. You can see that by the results through the whole competition so we've got to learn to do that."

Matthew Kreuzer (14 disposals, 37 hit-outs, four clearances and two goals) continued his excellent season to be among the Blues' best, while star midfielder Patrick Cripps had 10 clearances in his 27 disposals and also booted a goal.
However Bolton said the Blues' overall efforts around the ball were below par.

"I've said a lot that we want to be defined by pressure and consistency and I thought we were very patchy in both of those areas today. Our defensive transition needed to improve and probably in and around the contest there was far too many broken tackles," he said.

"We had about 50 tackles today and we set targets a fair bit higher than that. In an area that we want to set really high standards for, I thought we've got a bit of growth required there."

Carlton was a man down for most of the game after forward Jed Lamb was taken from the ground with concussion not even halfway through the first term following an off-the-ball hit from Bachar Houli.

Houli was immediately reported and is expected to be suspended by the Match Review Panel on Monday. Lamb will be assessed by the club during the week to see if he can line-up against Adelaide next Saturday at the MCG, but Bolton, who said he didn't see the incident, said Carlton was being cautious after the head knock.

"I haven't spoken to him – I haven't had a chance – but obviously he missed the game so that's the concussion test and our medicos following good, strong protocol because we know we want to look after players' welfare," he said.

"If he's missed the game he must've been a little bit dodgy at the time. That's what it's designed for, because 10 or 15 years ago you send players back out but not anymore."

Bolton said it was "difficult" being a player short and that it put extra strain on the Blues, but didn't describe it as a factor in the loss.

With five wins on the board so far this season, the Blues are two short of the seven victories they chalked up in 2016. There are nine games remaining this year and their improvement suggests that number will be eclipsed, but Bolton said the first 14 rounds of the year had proven the club is on the right track. 

"There's lots of indicators. The easy one is how wins you've had and how many losses. But we've had four Rising Star [nominees], and last year we had 'Weiters' (Jacob Weitering), so there's five. We've got the certain number of wins we've had so far and there's been games we've lost when we've been in front in the last quarter," he said.

"There's been lots of growth without necessarily getting the win on the board. We're pushing hard to grow that number all the time. There's lots of signs we're headed in right direction. We're never satisfied though."