Will it be a different Carlton this week?
Carlton coach Brendon Bolton was filthy with his players after the AFL club’s hopes of avoiding the wooden spoon evaporated with an inept third-quarter display against Fremantle.
The Blues led by 13 points at halftime on Sunday before conceding seven unanswered goals in the third quarter on the way to the 15.11 (101) to 10.12 (72) loss.
Carlton would have been just one win adrift of Gold Coast if they had gotten over the line against Fremantle at Optus Stadium.
But the loss means Carlton need to beat the Bulldogs and Crows in the final two rounds, plus rely on Gold Coast losing to Brisbane and Geelong, in order to get off the bottom of the ladder.
“I am absolutely filthy, as are our players, with the third quarter,” Bolton said.
“Seven goals in unacceptable in a quarter. That is unacceptable. And our players’ consistency need to grow.”
Bolton gave his players a huge rocket at three-quarter time and he was satisfied with how they responded.
“(The spray) is always informed and it needed to be emotive because we needed to jar the group in to what it did in the first two quarters,” Bolton said.
“And then in the last I thought they responded all right, we just didn’t totally capitalise.”
Carlton suffered a big blow before the match when star ruckman Matthew Kreuzer had to be pulled out because of another heart scare.
Kreuzer hadn’t played since experiencing an elevated heart rate in the round 17 loss to St Kilda, and his hopes of returning against Fremantle were dashed when he suffered a recurrence at training on Saturday.
He will see specialists in the coming days to determine the best course of action.
The Blues were well served by Patrick Cripps (32 disposals, eight clearances) and veteran Dale Thomas (30 possessions, one goal).
Dockers midfielder Lachie Neale was best afield with 34 disposals, 10 clearances and a goal, while Cam McCarthy booted three goals to go with his final-term speccy.
But star goalsneak Michael Walters is set to miss the rest of the season after injuring his left hamstring late in the match.
Dockers coach Ross Lyon said skipper Nat Fyfe (hamstring) was only a slim chance to return in Saturday’s clash with Geelong.
Lyon was happy with the way his team responded on the back of last week’s fiery derby and the media storm that followed.
Fremantle have won eight games this season – the same number they achieved last year.
But Lyon feels the figure is a step forward given the huge amount of first-year players he’s injected into the side.
“We’re not there yet but we’re a growth mindset club,” Lyon said.
“We know if we keep putting in the effort and work hard to improve, we will.
“We’re not fixed, we know that. But it was really pleasing today.”