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Blues 'bridging the gap'

Nick Bowen, AFL Media  July 1, 2017 6:46 PM

Post-match | Brendon Bolton Brendon Bolton spoke to the media after Carlton's Round 15 loss to Adelaide.

Carlton's fighting loss to Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday shows it is "really bridging the gap" between itself and the competition's strongest teams, according to Blues coach Brendon Bolton. 

When the Blues took on the Crows at the MCG in round 16 last year, they were humbled by 60 points.

The Crows entered Saturday's game second on the ladder and looked set to inflict another thumping on the 15th-placed Blues after kicking four unanswered goals in the first 15 minutes.

But Bolton's men fought back, cutting the deficit to six points at half-time before overcoming a 17-point deficit early in the final quarter to hit the lead by one point at the 12-minute mark.

Highlights and report

The Crows kicked three of the final four goals to emerge with a 12-point win, but Bolton was proud his team had been able to give one of this year's premiership contenders a serious scare.

"This time last year when we played Adelaide it was a 10-goal loss, so it shows our supporters, but also shows most importantly our playing group, that they're really bridging the gap on some sides over the last 18 months, and that's huge growth," Bolton said.

"Aside from our wins, some of our losses – I reckon about four of them – we've been in front in the last quarter, so it shows that we're bridging the gap.

"But it also shows that you need to be in those scenarios for the next step of growth. So we'll be able to look at that last quarter really, really strongly, see what worked and what didn't, both as an individual and as a team.

"That's a good learning opportunity for us." 

Young Blues defenders Caleb Marchbank, Lachie Plowman and Jacob Weitering came from the ground in the last quarter looking sore, but all returned to play out the game.

Marchbank appeared to land heavily on his shoulder after a marking contest, Plowman appeared to dislocate a finger and Weitering seemed to land awkwardly on his ankle.

Bolton was confident after the game all three defenders would be available for the Blues' clash with Melbourne next Sunday.

"I think they're all OK. I haven't been given a message that they won't be right, so I would have thought they're all all right. (They're) just sore, you get that in those sort of games."

Patrick Cripps gave the Blues a spark in the second quarter when he spent some time in attack.

The 195cm midfielder outbodied Crows key defender Jake Lever in a marking contest at the 11-minute mark but couldn't convert the resultant set shot. However, he made no mistake a couple of minutes later after marking on the lead, bombing a goal from over 50m.

Bolton said as the Blues' midfield depth grew, Cripps was likely to be deployed more often in attack.

"He's pushed forward in games this year, he keeps training in that area and we think he's showing some real growth with his marking up forward," Bolton said.