Beating Saints has taught Blues: Ratten - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Beating Saints has taught Blues: Ratten

By Adam Cooper 13/06/2009 02:30:12 PM Comments (0)

Carlton coach Brett Ratten believes his side now has a much better understanding of where it stands this AFL season.

The Blues showed they can match it against the league's best, as they pushed ladder leader St Kilda all the way on Friday night at Etihad Stadium, until the Saints settled and won 16.8 (104) to 14.11 (95).

But for what-ifs, Carlton might have even inflicted St Kilda's first loss of 2009.

Carlton gave St Kilda a five-goal head start, were frustrated at having Chris Judd continually leave the field because of his broken nose, were inaccurate (3.5) in the final term and badly missed defender Bret Thornton (hamstring), who could have gone to St Kilda's Nick Riewoldt, who booted five goals.

But Ratten said he had learned a lot about his players' ability to respond under pressure, both on Friday night and last Saturday night, when they held off the fast-finishing Brisbane Lions and won by six points at the Gabba.

Friday night's game was the first time this season the Blues had come up against one of the unbeaten sides, as they play Geelong in round 19.

"We thought after (Friday night) we would see where we're at how far we are off a legitimate team," Ratten said.

"They've played some fantastic footy, St Kilda, and they deserve to be where they are.

"They've got some great players and dangerous players and to a man they stick to their roles.

"In the 50-50 contested footy they're very hard at it across the board and they were a great challenge for our young group.

"I thought after the first 12 or 15 minutes we stood up and we actually confronted them and at times played better, but at the end of the day they just had a bit more skill and execution of the footy.

"We are improving as a team but we've got a lot of work to do."

Carlton entered the match in fourth spot but their defeat left them with a 6-6 win-loss record and meant they could lose their spot in the top four at some stage during the split round 12.

Thornton is expected to be available for the Blues' next assignment against Essendon on June 26 at the MCG.

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