Carlton’s hard-fought 15-point win over Collingwood was their third victory in a row and a clear sign the rebuilding Blues are heading in the right direction.
Just seven games into a significant rebuild of 2015’s wooden spooners, coach Brendon Bolton has his young AFL side playing strong, contested football that was the cornerstone of the 15.9 (99) to 12.12 (84) win in front of 60,222 fans at the MCG.
Perhaps of even more significance to the Carlton faithful, it was the first time they’ve beaten their arch-rivals since 2012.
“It’s affirmation that we’re on the right track,” Bolton said.
“Our defence is holding up and I thought even our ball movement improved today.
“We’ve still got lots to go but it’s affirmation that we’ve got some little building blocks in place.”
The Pies trailed by as much as 30 points in the third quarter but came at the Blues in the final term, slicing the margin to 12 points.
But with the game in the balance, Levi Casboult – much maligned for his errant goal-kicking – stepped up and slotted a long-range goal that stalled Collingwood’s momentum.
“He kicked three goals and that one in the last should be a real spirit lifter for him,” Bolton said of his full forward.
“He’s been nearly kicking his leg off (at training) … hopefully this is a little step forward.”
Casboult took 11 marks to go with his three goals. Bryce Gibbs and Andrejs Everitt also booted three.
Gibbs was outstanding throughout, gathering 30 possessions, with Kade Simpson, Patrick Cripps and Marc Murphy also important.
Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom were the standouts for Collingwood, but their on-ball brigade was well beaten.
With Travis Cloke still trying to find form in the VFL, the Pies lacked marking targets inside attacking 50. Alex Fasolo was their most dangerous forward with four goals.
“We just didn’t have enough blokes who were prepared to dig in in that early stage,” coach Nathan Buckley said.
“Contested ball was in minus double figures really quickly in that first quarter … it’s pretty hard to be able to play the game if you’re not winning contested possession.
“We were nutted in and around the ball in our midfield and it puts pressure on other parts of your game.
“We just weren’t able to stand up.”
Alarm bells are ringing for Buckley, whose side slipped to a 2-5 record with the loss, while the Blues improve to 3-4.