‘We beat ourselves’ and must learn harsh lessons, says Blues’ Bolton

Carlton coach Brendan Bolton said the Blues had beaten themselves as they succumbed to a last-gasp left-foot snap by Suns midfielder Jack Bowes with just 13 seconds left to play at Metricon Stadium yesterday.

The Blues, who are the only side in the competition without a win after four rounds, controlled the match for long stretches, but were betrayed what Bolton said were little decisions.

Daisy pain: Carlton’s Dale Thomas can’t believe it after Gold Coast snatch victory in the dying seconds at Metricon Stadium.Credit:AAP

“It leaves us frustrated and really determined, and also hurting, probably the summary of the three main emotions right now,’’ he said.

“Not taking away from the Gold Coast, because they stay in a fight and they’ve been doing that all year, but we defeated ourselves on many plays today, more with ball in hand than anything,” he said.

“When the game’s on a knife-edge like that there’s lots of little decisions. There are harsh lessons to learn for the group.

“I think it’s a word called composure, just being able to assess what’s in front … we had some absolute shockers, where we kicked it to a small, or just didn’t hit targets.”

Carlton coach Brendon Bolton’s future will be judged on a body of work this season, not a single loss.Credit:AAP

He denied that his side lacked the confidence to win. “Our group’s really united, they’re really determined, and they’re frustrated as well, but there’s not a lack of belief. There’s a lack of belief when you’re miles away.

“I think the playing group have got strong belief. There are some good effort indicators, but that doesn’t win you games (by itself).

“We won the tackle count, we won the contested possession count, and the ground-ball gets, really important stats against Gold Coast.

“So they know that the effort is getting everyone close, but they’re frustrated at some of the decision-making with ball in hand centre-forward, because we didn’t capitalise.

Blue Sun day: Carlton players react after last-gasp snap by Gold Coast’s Jack Bowes (left).Credit:AAP

“We’ve just got to keep putting ourselves in that position, and soon it will crack .. there’s enough signs to show we’re in the right direction, but we’re determined to get a result.”

The last win the Blues had was the last time these two teams played at Metricon Stadium, in Round 19 last year.

“To the supporters, we’re hurting with you, we’re frustrated with you,” Bolton said. “There’s a win around the corner if we keep giving the effort we’re giving, but we know we need to get some polish in our play.”

“We’ll go away and address the why. There’s a lot of frustration and hurt, but a lot of determination to get this right for our members. All our players and coaching staff want to repay our members that are living through this growth.”

One of the few players who did provide some polish for the Blues was Sam Walsh, who won 28 possessions and mostly used them well in fourth game of football.

“He’s terrific. He’s a first-year player, he’s had close to 30 [possessions], that contest that he sat under and got absolutely crunched showed his courage .. he got back up and goes again,” Bolton said.

Suns coach Stuart Dew, with his team in the unfamiliar position of being three wins from four and in the eight, similarly was critical of his team’s inability to create scoring opportunities, despite an advantage in entries inside attack.

Fair Dew: Suns coach has been on the ball so far this season with selections and tactics.Credit:AAP

“Probably the theme for us was our inability to get good connects. We held them up well, but we bombed at times, which was really ineffective. In the end though, I think our young group, being able to win from that position’s really important for us.

“It’s great for our home crowd – they were really loud in the end, and our boys mentioned it after the game, how good the crowd was for them, and we ran the game out well again.”

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