Carlton are showing signs of life, despite a barren start to the AFL season under new coach Brendon Bolton.
Saturday night’s 36-point loss to the Western Bulldogs left the Blues languishing with no wins from four games.
But after the Bulldogs outplayed them in the second term, Carlton rallied from a game-high deficit of 51 points early in the third quarter.
Turnovers – and the Bulldogs’ ability to score from them – meant the Blues had no chance of a shock win.
Still, there is plenty about the Carlton reset that Bolton can sell to their fans.
“Our supporters should be happy with our effort,” he said.
“I should say the Bulldogs’ second quarter was some really serious footy, so we’re disappointed with how we handled that.
“But we hung tough and that’s really important for this group.
“Typically … we probably lacked a bit of polish, but the foundation of effort and hanging tough is there.”
The Blues’ defence was solid, led by Kade Simpson and Sam Docherty.
GWS recruit Lachie Plowman made an immediate impression in his Carlton debut, shutting down Bulldogs star Jake Stringer.
But Bolton admits their attack needs polish.
They only kicked seven goals on Saturday night and their highest total so far this season is 83.
Carlton fans were ropeable with the 13-30 free kick count and Bolton was diplomatic, saying he would see whether his players are at fault.
“I will look at those closely and it could be our discipline,” he said.
“The free kick discrepancy was too large for our liking, so I have to look at the ‘why’.”
Star midfielder Patrick Cripps still had nine clearances, but he struggled at times against some strong attention from the ‘Dogs.
“We have to have high expectations on him, because he’s a really good player, but we also have to be a little bit measured,” Bolton said.
“He’s played, I don’t know, 30 games and it’s really easy to forget that.
“He’ll learn how to deal with opposition … it’s a privilege that guys are going to him and he should look at it that way.”
Captain Marc Murphy was off for much of the second half with a head gash and the Blues also revealed that he was physically ill at halftime.