CARLTON coach David Teague says his side is not far away from gaining the consistency of the best sides despite the Blues' loss to bottom-placed Adelaide extinguishing their finals hopes.
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The Blues were blown out of the water by a confident Crows outfit in the early stages of Sunday's loss at Metricon Stadium, with Adelaide jumping to a five-goal lead at quarter time.
Inconsistency continues to plague the Blues, who hit back in the second half to lose by 16 points. The defeat requires them to beat Brisbane next week by a huge margin – and then rely on a number of other results to fall their way – to be any chance of breaking a seven-year finals drought.
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With the stakes so high against the Crows, Teague was disappointed with the Blues' contest work and failure to execute the basics under pressure when the game was up for grabs. But despite missing the chance at a first finals appearance since 2013, Teague remained bullish about his side.
"I don't think it's a big step. I think we're not far off and our fans may be a bit disappointed because we haven't been able to execute, but for periods of games we have," he said post-game.
"Our players have belief in it. Our next step is being able to do it for longer and to do it more consistently particularly when the pressure's really on. We need to stay calm and get the job done.
"Right now we've probably shown that we haven't been able to do that, but I really believe in this group. We just need to continue to get better under pressure in the big moments and, when teams get a run on, minimising the scoring.
"And our ability on the flipside, when we get a run on, making the most of it and hitting the scoreboard more. I don't think we're a long way off but right now we're not where we want to be and we want to get better. That's our job."
Carlton co-captain Sam Docherty's season appears over after injuring his calf early in the defeat.
The Blues were shocked by the Crows in the first half, with Matthew Nicks' men jumping to a 44-point advantage by the main break. Carlton hit back with an improved second half but the Crows held strong to claim their third win in a row.
Nicks said it was important the club, which is now only percentage behind 17th-placed North Melbourne, hit the end of the season with momentum.
"We'd love to keep playing. Unfortunately that's the disappointing part about this season. We took a while to get going, in fact we were a long way off early. But we made ground and we were making ground behind the scenes," he said.
"There were a lot of things that were going well off-field, it just wasn't translating into wins. We'd love to keep playing footy and normally we would have another five or six rounds to go. That's the really exciting part about where we're heading."