CARLTON is reaping the rewards of rediscovered confidence after interim coach John Barker granted the players more freedom with their ball use.
The Blues were terrific in Saturday’s thrilling four-point win over Port Adelaide, staving off a resurgent Power in the final term to notch their second win, and Barker's first at the helm.
The Blues played free-flowing football for most of the game and took risks with their ball movement.
"We've unshackled them a bit in terms of the way they use the ball and that's given them a little bit of confidence," Barker said post-match.
"It’s three weeks now that we've given a really strong competitive effort and it's grown marginally each week.
"Having said that it's great and we're happy that there's effort there but good teams bring that effort week-in, week-out. Our biggest challenge now is just maintaining that.
"There's some mechanics of the game that we didn't quite nail. They are a very good team and they keep coming but I think the confidence is growing.
"We're still not as good with our foot skills as we'd like to be given the style we're playing but I think there's a gradual growth in confidence."
After holding a 29-point advantage in the early stages of the final term, four consecutive goals to the Power cut the Blues' lead to four points.
Port Adelaide had several chances to steal the victory in the dying minutes but Carlton's leaders Marc Murphy and Kade Simpson were instrumental in ensuring the team kept its composure and maintained its structures.
"You really rely on on-field leaders in those situations," Barker said.
"The leaders are really starting to drive what we want to stand for and that helps in those situations. Their ability to organise and direct on the field is obviously critical.
"I could see clearly Kade Simpson and Marc Murphy really marshaling the troops at some of those defensive 50 stoppages.
"We've got some leaders here that are trying to grow themselves and trying to grow the group which is what you want."
The Blues face Gold Coast next Sunday at Etihad Stadium.