Carlton will quickly regroup in preparation for a mouth-watering “final elimination” against arch rival Collingwood next week, coach Michael Voss says.
Voss was trying to take positives out of Saturday night’s heartbreaking loss to the Demons, who stole a five-point victory from the jaws of defeat thanks to a classy Kysaiah Pickett goal with 11 seconds left in the game.
Shattered Blues players slumped to the ground on the final siren as Melbourne denied Carlton the opportunity to cement a finals berth for the first time since the 2013 season.
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Asked where it went wrong, Voss told reporters: “A bit of detail in the last couple of minutes didn’t quite get right, so I guess it’s easy to focus on that two minutes.”
Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd, who was at the MCG on Saturday night, witnessed a frustrated Voss walk towards the Blues’ rooms after the final siren, before he u-turned, consoled his players and walked from the field with them.
“This is as bad as a home and away loss gets … I’ve lost a prelim by a point but this is as close to what you get with a home and away loss,” Lloyd told Channel 9’s The Sunday Footy Show.
“Vossy, he stands on the bench with the players and coaches from down there – he just started charging off on his own, disconsolate, hands in his pockets. He was going to head straight down to the rooms.
“Just as he got close, I reckoned it triggered and he thought: ‘I can’t just go off and leave my players there.’ He turned back around, walked 60m back, he tapped every player on the bum, he and ‘Crippa’ (Patrick Cripps) walked down arm-in-arm.
“So I reckon he thought to himself: ‘I’ve got to be here with my players and we’ve got one week to try and salvage and turn this around.’”
With the ninth-placed Western Bulldogs, who are a win behind Carlton, set to start as favorites in their own do-or-die clash against Hawthorn next Sunday, the Blues simply must beat old foe Collingwood to cement a finals berth.
Carlton, vying to feature in September for the first time since 2013, will take on the miracle-working Magpies in a sequel to the thrilling Round 11 affair in which the Pies won by four points.
“It’s really exciting for us,” Voss said.
“I’ve spoken about the opportunity that’s there and it’s about exposure for us playing in these sorts of games. It can only be a good thing for us and how we grow and develop out of this as a footy team.”
Voss said his troops would relish the opportunity to take on the in-form Collingwood in front of an MCG crowd likely to exceed 80,000.
“It’s effectively an elimination final,” Voss said. “We know what the week holds.
“We’ll get back to work and turn up here next Sunday, in what will be a really big game. I’m sure it’ll be really built up.
“The energy that we brought today was just real excitement to be able to play these sorts of games. I hope we bring that same energy.”
The Blues are likely to regain Adam Cerra, who was a late withdrawal because of groin tightness but Voss conceded his side wouldn’t have the luxury of bringing fellow midfielders George Hewett and Matthew Kennedy back into the line-up despite the high-stakes nature of the clash.
“(Close) just couldn’t quite get going this morning,” Voss said.
“George (Hewett) is starting to get going a bit, but I think the prognosis for him is that if he does actually start to train it might be more towards the finals.”
— with NCA Newswire