Carlton’s week of soul-searching, scrutiny and off-field drama has ended with a gutted coach and a 19-point defeat to Collingwood.
Brendon Bolton could barely summon a positive word about a game in which the Blues led by 11 points midway through the last term.
“I’ve got to answer your questions based on what I am pleased about in the game,” the Blues coach said in his post-match press conference.
“But it’s like last week – is the timing right to talk about all the positivity right now? Because we’ve just lost. We’re annoyed with it.
“There’s heaps going right but there’s some moments like that second half of the last quarter … my moral compass is saying to me ‘Don’t answer all the positivity just right now’.”
Carlton had threatened to pull off a big upset before the Magpies surged home to claim a 16.10 (106) to 13.9 (87) victory.
The result leaves the Blues stranded at the bottom of the ladder with just one win for 2019 and four from their past 40 games.
Rising to the occasion in front of 69,289 fans, Carlton came desperately close to delivering what would have been one of their greatest wins under Bolton.
The lead changed 13 times as the Blues, led magnificently by Patrick Cripps and Marc Murphy, went blow for blow with the premiership pacesetters.
The Blues regained the ascendancy midway through the final term when Mitch McGovern booted a third-straight Carlton goal.
But Jack Crisp’s long-range running goal pared back the lead and Callum Brown’s soccer finish put the Pies in front by a point with five minutes left. Late majors to Jordan De Goey, Tom Phillips and Will Hoskin-Elliott put the result beyond doubt.
A listless 58-point defeat to North Melbourne had raised fresh questions about Carlton’s rebuild, prompting Collingwood president Eddie McGuire to suggest the Blues should consider replacing Bolton with Hawthorn maestro Alastair Clarkson.
Demons sneak home against Suns
Melbourne escaped with a one-point AFL win over Gold Coast with Tom McDonald shanking a behind off the post in the dying seconds of the match.
The Demons looked like they were slipping to another defeat when Nick Holman’s goal with less than a minute to play put them ahead but a career-first goal for Marty Hore and then McDonald’s desperate scramble allowed Melbourne to steal a 8.13 (61) to 9.6 (60) win.
The loss was cruel on the Suns, who must have thought they’d claimed their fourth win of the season when Holman made the most of a vacant goal square to kick a goal on the run.
From the next centre bounce the ball found its way to Hore, who coolly slotted with his left foot from 50-metres to level the scores.
The Demons again got the ball from the middle and charged inside the Suns’ 50 as the clock ticked down.
Eventually it broke to McDonald, who failed to make a clean connection on the bouncing ball but did enough to divert it on to the post before the final siren sounded.
West Coast too strong for Saints
Onballers Dom Sheed, Elliot Yeo and Luke Shuey have spearheaded West Coast’s workmanlike three-goal AFL win over St Kilda.
Despite the Saints kicking four goals to one in the last quarter, the Eagles held sway to win 12.16 (88) to 10.10 (70) on Saturday night at Marvel Stadium.
The reigning premiers remain well off their best, but did what was needed and improved to 5-3 for the season.
After winning four of their opening five games, the Saints are mired in a three-match losing streak.
Crows win showdow, march into top four
Adelaide attacker Tom Lynch has slotted three goals in a 20-point win against arch foe Port Adelaide which lifts the Crows into the AFL’s top four.
The Crows held off a fast-finishing Port to triumph 13.10 (88) to 9.14 (68) on a slippery Saturday night at Adelaide Oval.
Adelaide led at every change despite losing prime mover Matt Crouch to a groin injury.
But from 44 points up in the opening minute of the last quarter, the Crows were given an almighty scare as Port booted five unanswered goals to threaten to steal victory.
While Lynch put on Adelaide’s attacking polish, the Crows’ fourth consecutive victory was built by a supreme defence marshalled by backmen Daniel Talia and Rory Laird (31 disposals).
In the other game, The Western Bulldogs defeated the Brisbane Lions by 16 points in a scrappy encounter at Ballarat.