CARLTON 2.6 10.6 11.7 15.11 (101) ST KILDA 1.1 4.3 6.10 9.15 (69)
Goals: Carlton: C Yarran 4 T Menzel 3 S Docherty 2 D Ellard D Thomas J Garlett K Simpson M Jamison M Robinson. St Kilda: N Riewoldt 4 J Billings 2 A Schneider B Acres L Dunstan.
BEST Carlton: Gibbs, Yarran, Simpson, Menzel, Murphy, Docherty, St Kilda: Hayes, Riewoldt, Dempster, Schneider, Delaney.
Injuries: St Kilda: J Steven (cut) N Riewoldt (concussion).
Umpires: Chris Donlon, Ray Chamberlain, Jordan Bannister.
Official Crowd: 26,708 at Etihad Stadium.
ST KILDA V CARLTON Player of the year votes
Bryce Gibbs (Carlton) 8
Chris Yarran (Carlton) 8
Troy Menzel (Carlton) 7
Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda) 7
Lenny Hayes (St Kilda) 7
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Carlton holds off a fighting St Kilda to win by 32 points at Etihad Stadium on Monday night.
There is a theory in football that you begin the next game as you finished the last. So junk time goals are not so worthless after all.
That theory held some truth on Monday night. Carlton, awful for three quarters in its last game, booted eight goals in the last quarter and finished not feeling quite so bad about itself.
St Kilda, adequate early in its last match, fell to pieces as the game dribbled on to lose by 24 goals and had a week of scuffing the ground and looking at its shoes.
Both sides picked up the threads of their last encounters. If there was to be a response from the Saints to the Hawthorn belting it was in word only, for their promise to attempt consistency proved thin. The second half was an improvement but they could not score.
Carlton was vastly superior to the Saints in the first term but profligate with its assault on goal. It kicked 2.6 for the term and did not convert Kade Simpson’s and Bryce Gibbs’ dominance in the middle. St Kilda, meantime, looked for Nick Riewoldt to kick its entire score as other forwards – Rhys Stanley and Arryn Siposs for instance – appeared to be a garnish.
The second quarter was when the real hangover of one week to the next was felt – eight goals to three and Carlton had opened up the sort of separation the first quarter suggested it deserved. It led by 39 points at half-time.
More pleasingly for Carlton, it was through the agency of the sort of players it wants these things to be happening through.
Troy Menzel, for instance. He kicked three goals in the term, including two in a minute, each on opposite sides of the body, but both with a similar degree of difficulty. He is a bona fide talent of the standard of his contemporary, Chad Wingard.
Then there was Chris Yarran. Back after missing just a week with a hamstring, the player that frustrates and teases but also delights and thrills, found the sort of open space that Carlton had been seeking to manufacture and when he did he pinned his ears back and ran away from the chasing Leigh Montagna. Four bounces and without slowing to steady, drilled the goal.
Structurally, Carlton’s extra man behind the ball in the first half frustrated St Kilda’s single focused attack through Riewoldt, while St Kilda’s extra at the other end of the ground – nominally Farren Ray – was unable to have the same sort of impact.
After the break St Kilda reverted to a more simplified man on man approach and squeezed Carlton for space.
The impact was immediate. Adam Schneider and Luke Dunstan kicked goals and with several more set shots in quick time, StKilda was playing with the sort of effort coach Alan Richardson has been demanding.
The Saints were able to get more of the ball through the middle of the ground in the third quarter – as opposed to the back half of the ground where they won the ball in the first half – and the impact on momentum was significant. But 2.7 for the quarter was as bad as Carlton’s first term.
While the momentum of one week might bleed into the next, the narrative of one football week can also continue to be told in the next. Thus, Marc Murphy will wonder at how costly a bump that sent Riewoldt from the ground for a concussion test will be for him.
Mitch Robinson won’t need to speculate on recent football conversations for how the judiciary will consider his punch to a head. Those conversations ruled punches similar to his illegal a decade or two ago.
The immediate impact of having Riewoldt off the ground was that without a true opponent, Michael Jamison had to go forward and create a mismatch for the Saints. One-out, Jamison marked just beyond the goal square and when he kicked truly he had registered just his second goal in 117 games.
It was a cameo moment for he was soon back in defence. It also proved a cameo moment for Carlton, as St Kilda continued to have the better of the field play for the second half but was unable to contrive a way to goal.
Early in the third it had ample shots at goal and missed them. In the last the Saints had ample access to the ball and forward thrusts, but could not settle on who should be the one to goal.
When Yarran toed home his fourth, the result was a certainty. Carlton was writing a new history against St Kilda. It has now won two in a row against a side that had a hold on it like no other in the competition – in 13 seasons it had beaten St Kilda just three times in 19 attempts.