Coach Paul Roos was philosophical after a long-awaited AFL finals berth that appeared tantalising within Melbourne’s reach was snatched away by a more determined Carlton.
The Demons needed a win to have any chance of taking eighth spot from North Melbourne, but the Blues jumped to an early lead and were in front at every change to finish 11.12 (78) to 7.16 (58) in slippery conditions at the MCG on Sunday.
The Demons have undoubtedly taken giant leaps forward under Roos, but the outgoing coach said the match showed his side isn’t yet a worthy finals contender.
“It probably gives you an indication of how far we’ve come but still how far we’ve got to improve as a group to get into the eight and be a good finals team,” Roos said.
“It was probably one of those games where not a lot went right for us, to be honest.
“We didn’t have a lot of good players but to the guys’ credit they just kept fighting. I think they gave everything they had today, they just didn’t seem to have a lot in the tank.
“I think we’ve come so far but to get to be a top eight team you’ve got to be more consistent game to game, more consistent in your preparation … all those sorts of things add up.”
The Demons had too many passengers in a forgettable performance, but Dom Tyson, Nathan Jones and Jack Viney worked hard.
Carlton looked switched on from the moment Dylan Buckley kicked the opening goal then bowled over the nearest Melbourne player, while the Demons looked hesitant and perhaps overawed by the opportunity in front of them.
Buckley was the leading goal-kicker with three, while Bryce Gibbs and Patrick Cripps dominated around the stoppages, the pair finished with 33 and 30 possessions respectively.
Sam Docherty and Kade Simpson marshalled the troops superbly in the back half, although the Demons didn’t help their cause with some poor kicking for goal.
The Blues, who had lost their previous nine games, turned an 18-point halftime lead into a 24-point advantage at the last change before holding off a Melbourne challenge that was too little, too late.
“I think it was a good reward for perseverance,” Carlton coach Brendon Bolton said.
“All year we’ve been defined by pressure and effort even though we haven’t got over the line, so when you’ve got something you believe in you’ve got to go out and deliver and they were determined to do so today.”
The Blues lost Sam Kerridge (illness) and Jack Silvagni (sore) before the game, with the pair replaced by Nick Graham and Andrejs Everitt.