IN A physical clash at Marvel Stadium, the Blues have fallen at the hands of the Saints, unable to recover from a slow start. 

Despite taking the lead at multiple stages of the game, Carlton's inability to kick accurately in front of goal cost them in the second half on the way to a 15-point loss.

Jesse Motlop was a shining light for the Blues, slotting three goals, while Sam Walsh gathered 33 disposals. 

Quarter one

The start to the game was one the Blues would prefer to have back, with the Saints keeping the ball in their forward half for 96 per cent of game time in the first six minutes of the match, resulting in two goals. Inaccuracy in front of goal was the only saving grace for Carlton, as the host struggled to get hands on the ball long enough to move it beyond the centre square efficiently. St Kilda’s intercept and contested marking game kept them in control of the term, while missed opportunities in front of goal kept Carlton goalless until the 16-minute mark of the term before Jesse Motlop got the first on the board. Sam Walsh lent a hand in the back half, picking up nine disposals in the first quarter, while Sam Docherty and Lewis Young were busy holding down the fort as the Saints recorded 15 inside 50s. Charlie Curnow slotted a goal with a minute left on the clock after a clever intercept from Adam Saad, leaving the Blues with an eight-point deficit to make up. 

Quarter two

It was a running Matt Cottrell goal that got the Blues going in the second term, as the Blues went from one end to another after a strong tackle in defence from Docherty. An over-the-head snap from Matt Kennedy was the result of some strong forward pressure from Carlton, as the Blues found their groove to begin the second quarter. A long goal from Zac Fisher meant the Blues had five straight goals, but just as the hosts had opened up a lead, the Saints responded with the next four of the game. Lachie Plowman and Young provided strong intercept work in the defensive 50, combining on 13 occasions to win the Blues back possession. After opening the Blues' account, Motlop then provided the highlight of a gripping first half, retrieving the ball at ground level, breaking a tackle and then snapping truly to keep the team within a kick at the main break.

00:53 Mins
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AFL CR | Blues hit the front with two in a minute

Back-to-back goals from Matthew Cottrell and Matthew Kennedy gave the Blues their first lead of the match early in the second term.

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Quarter three 

Neither side was able to do any damage in the first half of the term, with no goals scored until the 10-minute mark of the term. After some sharp work from Patrick Cripps, a Harry McKay snap got Carlton back the lead. Docherty was using his physicality in the defensive 50 as the ball kept finding its way back to the Saints’ forward half, while Saad - met with a 'Woof!' every time he kicked - used his penetrating left foot to rebound the ball from danger. Despite dominating the term from a territory perspective, Carlton was unable to do the damage on the scoreboard, registering just one goal from seven scoring shots. That was compounded late in what turned out to be a very physical quarter, with two late goals to the Saints leaving the Blues with a 12-point deficit to make up in the final term.

Quarter four 

As the Blues looked to win from a losing position at the final break for the second time this season, Fisher was busy early in the term, directing traffic and using the ball well by foot. A combined effort from Durdin and Kennedy put Carlton within a goal, while McKay’s second gave the home side the narrowest of leads. The game reached boiling point as the Saints inched ahead, with both sides ramping up the pressure and physicality. Getting clean possession in their forward half was giving them trouble, putting them on the back foot on the scoreboard.  McKay’s contested marking was exceptional, but unfortunately, the tall couldn’t make the most of his set-shot opportunities late in the term. Where the Blues couldn’t capitalise on their opportunities, the Saints did, ultimately seeing the Blues fall to a 21-point defeat.

Three things from the game 

1. Adam Saad played a comprehensive game for Carlton, which was fitting with the return of the ‘Woof!’ that used to follow his next door neighbour Ang Christou in days of old. Saad stuffed the stat sheet tonight, picking up 25 disposals (13 contested), 13 intercepts, six score involvements and gaining 456 metres. His presence in the defensive half was a bright spark for the Blues in a tough game. 

2. Jesse Motlop produced his finest performance so far for Carlton, with the youngster slotting a team-high three goals. The best of those came in the second term, producing the moment of the match with a stunning solo goal that had the Marvel Stadium crowd on its feet.

00:33 Mins
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AFL CR | Motlop magic gets Blues on the board

Jesse Motlop kicked this unreal running banana to finally give the Blues their first major of the night.

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3. The Blues have been relatively strong at taking their opportunities when presented to them, but Friday night was a lesson in conversion. Not only did the Blues struggle to register maximum result in front of the big sticks, but turnovers in transition burnt the home side. It can be a simple game sometimes, and that was the foundation of the result.

CARLTON      2.4     6.7      7.13        10.18 (78)
ST KILDA       3.6     7.6     10.7        14.9 (93)

Carlton: Motlop 3, Kennedy 2, McKay 2, Cottrell, Curnow, Fisher

Carlton: Walsh, Saad, Kennedy, Docherty, Motlop