Carlton coach Mick Malthouse admitted it was a minor concern that he was unable to nominate a best player for his side, but said his primary objective against Adelaide on Monday night was for his players returning from injury to get through the game unscathed.
The Blues were overrun in the last quarter, with the Crows eventually winning by 38 points after what was a terribly sloppy and unattractive first half.
Malthouse said with six senior players – Kade Simpson, Dale Thomas, Heath Scotland, Michael Jamison, Jeff Garlett and Matthew Kreuzer – all playing their first games of the year after injury-interrupted pre-seasons, it was always likely the team would flag in the last quarter.
Bryce Gibbs and Chris Yarran sat out the final term after suffering minor soreness.
“I said to the players before the game, if we win we will tick it, if we lose I will make an excuse to the media. But I don’t have to make an excuse … it was almost predictable that six of our players who had been out of action coming back were never going to impact the action in the last half,” Malthouse said of the loss in which Adelaide kicked six goals (including one super goal) to the Blues’ single goal in the last quarter.
“It was most important that they got running. In this case, most of them played approximately the minutes that we wanted them to play but knowing full well that under pressure they were always going to be head down cramped pretty much ‘let’s get this game over’.
“Dale, I thought he was good, I thought he gave us a bit, predictably like the other boys that played (he tired).
“Garlett has had one possession in the last quarter predictably; Jamison has had four. I suppose the ball was down there a fair bit; Scotland has had two or three; Simpson had three or four; Thomas had two. It was predictable.
“The most important thing was that they got through.”
Malthouse said he was pleased that – the final quarter blowout notwithstanding – defensively the team was better structured and organised than last year.
“To try and pick our best player was a long way short of being our best player whoever it was. Because we didn’t have a best player and that is a bit of a concern, but it is the second game of the year and we are not into round one.
“The most important thing today was whether we got a few defensive things right, and by and large we took some pretty significant steps there from last year. Can it hold up? We have to pick our best 22 players and see if it does hold up.”
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