Carlton’s horror season has gone from bad to worse against the Brisbane Lions, losing four players on top of a 65-point hammering.
After losing Kade Simpson before the opening bounce to a calf injury, Jacob Weitering joined him on the sidelines with the same problem, while Andrew Phillips also had an early afternoon with a hamstring strain.
Perhaps the most concerning was Caleb Marchbank, who was sent to hospital for tests in the last quarter after becoming ill late in the game, with what coach Brendan Bolton described as a raised heartbeat.
Bolton didn’t put the loss down to injuries, though they certainly didn’t help his side, and remained as upbeat as possible. But his side still got walloped by the 17th team on the ladder who have just two wins for the year.
They play St Kilda, currently 15th, next week, a match that looms as important for both Bolton and Saints coach Alan Richardson.
Bolton gave credit to the Lions. ‘‘I know the ladder is the ladder, but their losing margin is far better than what their ladder position is … Let’s give the respect required to Brisbane,’’ he said.
‘‘I think our supporters can understand the reality of where we’re at just now. We have a lot of work to do. We’ve been impacted significantly, particularly down back, with injuries.
“Moving forward we’ll continue to challenge this group in and around basic fundamentals. I thought they were low today – chains of ball movement, we were out, and didn’t capitalise.
‘‘But our group needs to hear we’re going to be defined by pressure, that’s something we’re not going away from.’’
The Blues have just one win for the year, and the mounting injury toll has robbed their group of continuity. ‘‘I don’t know what’s happened to us this year in terms of injuries, it’s been really frustrating.
‘‘It’s been incredibly difficult, but that means our group will build some resilience by playing players in different positions.’’
Lions coach Chris Fagan opened proceedings by thanking fans who have stuck with the club.
‘‘I was worried about today, because I thought travelling back from Perth, it’s a pretty big trip, and all that excitement with the win [over Fremantle]. Just to win two in a row – it’s been 2015 since that day, and we went into the game as favourites, and with that comes a little bit of pressure.
‘‘Our players will get a bit of belief out of that, but we’ve got a big test next week against the Hawks in Launceston … We’ll take it and try and continue on that form next week in a pretty tough, hostile environment.’’
HORROR YEARS AT CARLTON
2018 1 (after round 16)