CLOSE enough isn’t good enough, Carlton coach Brendon Bolton has declared in the wake of his side’s narrow loss to the Sydney Swans at the SCG which was compounded by a potentially serious knee injury to young gun Charlie Curnow.
Bolton said Curnow would undergo scans on his right knee after the 2015 No.12 draft pick twisted it in the third term, but added: “He didn’t finish the game which is never a great sign. He’ll miss some weeks, but how many I’m not sure.”
It was a sour note on an otherwise encouraging afternoon for Carlton, which out-enthused its heavyweight counterparts, particularly in the first half. Bolton acknowledged his side’s effort, but warned being complacent with a loss was a dangerous state of mind.
Five talking points: Sydney Swans v Carlton
“The best way to describe it is that we’re proud of our progress but, by far, not satisfied with close losses,” he said.
“It’s important our members hear that. We can see growth, so there’s a bit of pride there, but [we’re] never satisfied with close losses.
“I can’t question our players and I think our members would agree that we don’t give up the fight. In the last two games we’ve had a real go in the last quarter, but again, we’re proud but never satisfied with close losses.”
Carlton went blow-for-blow with the Swans statistically and fought back admirably from a 20-point deficit in the third quarter to be within a kick at the final siren. Bolton said the difference was decision-making at critical moments.
“Those teams that play in grand finals do their systems and make good decisions for longer,” he said. “Often there’s not a lot in it, it’s about doing the system and making the right decisions under pressure for longer. We gave effort, we tackled well today - I thought our tackle count was reasonable - but there’s some inconsistencies.”
WATCH: Brendon Bolton's full media conference
He said there was no such indulgence as a gallant loss.
“I don’t think that’s performance mind-set. If you think that way you always give yourself an out. We will always recognise and acknowledge and should enjoy the growth of the team and individuals, and we think we’ve made plenty on that front, but it can also become a self-fulfilling prophecy, being honourable when you lose.
“We’ve played against some teams that have been in grand finals in the last few years. Next week we go into another team, in Hawthorn, that have been in grand finals. So it’s great benchmarking, to benchmark our team against those, and we keep embracing the challenges. We’ll have another one next week.”