Carlton coach David Teague is confident the Blues can put their run of poor first quarters behind them when they face Geelong in Saturday night’s AFL clash at GMHBA Stadium.
The Blues conceded 12 goals across their past two opening quarters, forcing them to fight back in their losses against Richmond and Melbourne.
“It’s been a bit of a trend, it’s something we’re aware of,” Teague told reporters on Friday.
“I’m really confident in the way we’re preparing – and our supporters might not want to hear this – but we’re preparing really well and I think it’s just going to take one quarter where we start well and we get that belief going.
“After quarter time we’re playing some good football but we want to play for four quarters and compete for four quarters and that’s our challenge.”
Teague emphasised the need for his side to deliver top-line pressure and tackling from the opening bounce, wary of Geelong’s “explosiveness” out of stoppages.
“Melbourne came out and hit us hard and we didn’t handle it,” he said.
“So we need to be able to handle it, to be able to stand up in the contest and be stronger.
“If you look at raw numbers, our tackling just hasn’t been at the level, so we need to get our tackling up early in games and our pressure up early in games.”
The Cats have enjoyed a dominant record against Carlton, winning 10 of their past 11 clashes – including their past three by an average of 53.7 points.
Geelong won their most recent encounter, in round 23 last year, by 68 points.
In-form defender Jacob Weitering looks likely to handle Tom Hawkins, while Teague backed Mitch McGovern to find his groove up forward.
Patrick Cripps is set to go head-to-head with Patrick Dangerfield but could also float forward, as he did late in the loss to the Demons.
Tom Williamson, who has played just two games in as many seasons through injury, replaces Nic Newman (knee) in defence while Jack Silvagni returns after missing round two with gastro, with Darcy Lang dropped.
The Cats have not made any changes to the side that thumped Hawthorn by 61 points.