Carlton will face Brisbane in its first game of the 2024 home and away season next Friday. (Image: Carlton FC)

After a defeat at the hands of Melbourne on Wednesday night, and a second loss in the 2024 pre-season, Carlton will now look ahead to its Opening Round clash with the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba next Friday.

Following the Blues loss to the Demons, assistant coach Ash Hansen touched on the improvement he felt the Blues made from the Geelong scratch match to the Demons practice game, and how the conditions will aid them as they head up to Brisbane.

“I thought we got better as the game went on, which was encouraging,” he said.

“I thought our pressure got better, our ability to use the footy was really inconsistent in the first half and I thought we started capitalising on a few more plays in the second half, so we progressed and we were better than the previous week.

“These two games over the pre-season give you a chance to see your systems, and allow you to focus on what the next step is gonna be and that’s next week… which is pretty exciting.

“I’d be more concerned if it was cold or cooler conditions the last two games. If anything, probably a little bit more humidity tonight would’ve been good, but the heat is very welcome for what we’re going to face in the first couple of weeks.”

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With Jacob Weitering out of the Blues’ side, Melbourne were able to take advantage and win the aerial battle in their forward half. This is something Hansen says the Blues took note of and saw improve throughout the contest.

“[It was a] combination of their ability to go pretty quick and set up ahead of the ball, and our lack of pressure in the first half to support our backs, to allow their positioning to be able to support and win their battles,” he explained.

“I thought it improved in the second half, our ability to intercept and kill spoil, and clear the area which certainly helped us defend and hold up when they had a lot of inside 50s.

“Certainly the team system helped us defend those aerial contests where we weren’t getting the job done in the first half.

“Keep it in the context of a pre-season game, it gives us a really good look at it. We’d rather see the improvement in game like we did tonight, in relation to that, than have to face that in the Opening Round.

“We want to reduce the opposition as much as we can, without a doubt, but certainly we improved in that area.”

Playing one of their more consistent games as a duo in some time, finishing with three goals each for the game, Hansen was pleased with the work that Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow did ahead of their Opening Round game next week.

“They continue to work together really well, and build that chemistry,” Hansen said.

“I thought Harry has been arguably one of our best [over] the last two weeks. He’s had an outstanding pre-season, he’s prepared really well.

“The same with Charlie, we know it’s a long year [and] he’s carried a lot of the load the last two seasons, and when he builds himself into it we know the quality player he is.

“The chemistry is building, and they’re only going to get better when we start using the ball better.”

The Blues will open their season next Friday, heading back to the Gabba in the Opening Round to face the Brisbane Lions in a Preliminary Final rematch.

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