A SHARP-SHOOTING Carlton has cruised to a 21-point win over St Kilda at Ikon Park, with the Blues nailing four goals to one after half-time to claim their fourth win for the season.
BLUES TRAIN ON SONG Full match coverage and stats
The Blues won 8.2 (50) to 4.5 (29), which strengthening their hold on a top three position in Conference B with three rounds remaining.
It also sets up a scintillating Alice Springs clash with Melbourne – which currently sits third but is facing bottom-placed West Coast on Sunday – when they meet next Saturday night.
It was a multi-pronged and accurate Blues attack that took apart the Saints, with midfielder Sarah Hosking kicking two goals in the first quarter to set the tone early.
Gun forward Tayla Harris wasn't overly prolific but took a couple of strong contested marks and kicked an importantly timed goal to open the second quarter when the Saints were still in the contest.
Madison Prespakis (26 disposals) got things moving in the midfield, while co-captain Kerryn Harrington and Charlotte Wilson were stoic in defence, sharing 16 marks between them.
Harrington was the Blues' best as she marshalled the troops behind the ball and cut off the Saints' entries, as well as forcing them into missed opportunities when they surged in the last quarter.
The Saints started well after their heartbreaking loss to Fremantle last week, which was worsened by knee injuries to Tarni White and Kate McCarthy, and were led by Georgia Patrikios' courageous line-breaking play and Olivia Vesely's drive.
It looked as though Saints cult hero Caitlin Greiser was going to influence again with a pair of first half goals that gave her team a spark, but, after leading in the first quarter and trailing by just seven points early in the second, they simply struggled to hang on, burning a number of forward opportunities after Nicola Stevens' goal late in the third moved the Blues 25 points clear.
Did you see that?
There was a hot minute in the second when Greiser went long into a vacant forward 50, prompting a foot race between Kate Shierlaw and Vaomua Laloifi. The latter collected the ball with composure and rebounded, which saw Darcy Vescio showcase some flashy footwork before Brooke Walker danced around her opponent inside 50. The play deserved a goal, but Walker's shot sailed across the face.
One to watch
Patrikios' stocks just keep rising. If she hadn't already claimed a NAB Rising Star nomination, she will come into consideration for Saturday night's performance. Her courage was defined when she took on giant pair Harris and Lucy McEvoy in the third quarter when running out of defence. She was unsuccessful, but it was a brave attempt nonetheless.
It was over when...
There was a little bit of history repeating when a 50m penalty cost the Saints. As McEvoy lined up for a shot, Hannah Priest ran through the exclusion zone, which turned a maybe goal into a certain one – and pushed the margin to 19 points in the third.
Blink and you missed it
After kicking that goal, McEvoy celebrated with an elaborate hand shake combination with Harrington that involved some side-fiving, hand-slapping, hand-shaking, and a whole bunch of other actions.
"It was pretty hard, St Kilda play a hard and structured game so they're hard to break … to do it like we were able to in the third quarter was very pleasing. They made us earn it, no worry about it." – Carlton coach Daniel Harford.
"The team feeling and having the trust that your teammate is going to be there, is a really big thing we focus on as well." – Carlton midfielder Sarah Hosking.
"We were down four goals and had the first four shots in the last quarter … they were all gettable. We should have won the game. It's the little things that don't go our way that hurt us because our brand of footy is good enough to win games." – St Kilda coach Peta Searle.
The Blues are off to the Alice to meet Melbourne at Traeger Park on Saturday at 7.10pm ACDT. The Saints don't have to go quite as far, as they're hosting Richmond at RSEA Park on Saturday evening, with the game starting at 5.10pm AEDT.
CARLTON 3.0 4.1 7.2 8.2 (50)
ST KILDA 2.0 3.0 3.2 4.5 (29)
Carlton: S.Hosking 2, Egan, Harris, Walker, McEvoy, Stevens, Gee
St Kilda: Greiser 2, Watt, Shierlaw
Carlton: Harrington, Prespakis, Vescio, Wilson, Laloifi, S.Hosking
St Kilda: Patrikios, Vesely, Shierlaw, Exon, Dillon
St Kilda: Nil
St Kilda: Nil
Crowd: 3871 at Ikon Park