Main content

Jones a 'big win' for Blues

Highlights | Carlton v Essendon Watch all the highlights from the Round 20 match against Essendon.

Liam Jones' emergence as one of the competition's best key defenders has been "a big win" for Carlton in 2017, according to Blues coach Brendon Bolton.

Jones appeared destined for the AFL scrapheap ahead of this season.

Entering the last season of the three-year deal he signed after crossing from the Western Bulldogs at the end of 2014, Jones had failed to establish himself as a key forward at Ikon Park and seemed likely to play out time in the VFL.

But after being tried as a key defender with the Northern Blues Jones has enjoyed a revival Lazarus would be proud of.

Recalled to the Blues' team in round 12, Jones, 198cm and 98kg, has since taken on and beaten many of the AFL's best power forwards.

After 10 minutes of Saturday's game against Essendon, Jones looked in for a rough day when Coleman Medal leader Joe Daniher kicked the match's opening two goals.

But Jones fought back. He held Daniher to just one more goal for the game and to a total of four marks. And, as he has done so often in the second half of the season, he intercepted Bomber attack after Bomber attack, taking eight marks that included a game-high five contested grabs.

Liam Jones took eight marks against the Bombers on Saturday afternoon. (Photo: AFL Photos)

Bolton told reporters after the game Jones had been "fantastic" on Daniher, saying the 26-year-old's career transformation had been one of the biggest positives of Carlton's season.

"That's a big win out of our year. I think you need to look at this as a collective. We've found a key defender that can match it with the really big forwards," Bolton said.

"Often you've got to go and recruit that (type of player) or you've got to grow it like a (Jacob) Weitering from a young age and it takes time.

"But we've unearthed one, that's a win."

The Blues entered Saturday's game on the back of a six-game losing streak and things looked bleak when they fell 28 points behind late in the first quarter.

But after quarter-time Bolton's men were able to slow the game down and control the ball better, helping them to kick the next six goals and take the lead midway through the third quarter.

The Blues got out to a game-high 12 point lead midway through the last quarter, but could not finish off their hard work, allowing Essendon to snatch an eight-point win with the final three goals of the game.

It was the Blues' sixth loss this season by 20 points or less.

Bolton was frustrated by his team's inability to take its chances in the dying minutes, but said the group's youngsters would be hardened by the experience. 


"When you're young, you've got to learn what's required in moments because you look at the three or four goals they kicked in the last (quarter), they're just little fundamental errors: we get stepped, you spill a ball in congestion that you probably should contain," Bolton said.

"There's not one thing, there just little moments. You've got to be in them, really seasoned players have been in them a lot and they know what to do at the right time.

"The good thing is we're in the situations, we're learning the hard way. But usually when you learn the hard way you can grow quicker."