Bolton said the defeat was hard to swallow in the short-term but that it wouldn’t diminish his side’s resolve.
“I probably won’t sleep tonight,” Bolton said.
“Like all Bluebaggers, we don’t like any loss. The players are dirty. We’re dirty. You’ve got to learn these lessons. There is lots to like, but we’ve got to be able to adjust in game
“We’ll have that human emotion for 24-48 hours and then you turn that emotion into determination.
“But we don’t lose any morale.”
Bolton said the Blues didn’t do enough to curb the Hawks’ momentum in the third quarter.
“It’s a game of inches, it’s a game of quarters, it’s a game of seconds, it’s a game of contests and we didn’t nail those at critical times, particularly in the second half. So you’ve got to be able to adjust, and I didn’t think we adjusted well enough in the third quarter, after a really good first half. It just shows, it is a game of seconds. You never know, a few more seconds, what might have happened.
“Our guys left nothing in the tank, but I don’t want the conversation [to be] ‘oh we lost some soldiers, and they all fought hard, it was an honourable loss.’ Games require that. Yeah we had a few down. We didn’t adjust in the third.
“[Hawthorn] got their uncontested marks and uncontested possession game going. What you’ve got to be able to do in those instances is wrest the momentum back. Control the ball for a little while, not spill it in congestion.”
Bolton said the severity of Simpson’s injury was unclear.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson praised his senior players for leading the comeback.
“Some of our better players started to play a bit better, pretty simply,” Clarkson said.
“We didn’t spend the whole of the first half trying to do the one thing. Once we recognised that we were chasing Carlton’s tail a little bit we tried a few things, but I think [we had] 15 or 20 minutes of a bit of soul-searching, not from me to the players, but more to the players themselves just saying ‘we’re proud men’ who weren’t playing to the level they’re usually capable of playing to. A lot of our senior players had significant second halves that allowed us to get back into the contest.”
Daniel is an Age sports reporter.