Carlton has responded in emphatic style to a week under the spotlight, smashing St Kilda at Marvel Stadium.
The margin ballooned out to 50 points in the third quarter before the Saints pushed back to end up with a five-goal defeat.
It’s hard to imagine the result will have any weight when decisions are made, but on paper this result was everything Blues fans would be wanting beyond 2021.
Charlie Curnow was barely sighted, but ticked the only required box for the night – he got through unscathed. A snag in the first half also brought a smile to many faces.
The key forward played 80 per cent of game time, mostly in a deep forward role.
For St Kilda, any lingering hope of making finals went up in smoke in what was a poor effort across the board.
Max King kicked three early goals, but the Saints struggled to score after quarter time. A credit to Carlton’s pressure around the ball.
St Kilda had no ability to stop the Blues from scoring, Harry McKay dominated playing as the deepest target, kicking five goals. It could have been seven if he converted gettable set shots in the second half.
Sam Walsh continued his stellar year with three snags of his own, but it was maligned draftees Paddy Dow and Lochie O’Brien who caught the eye in the midfield.
O’Brien had huge influence on the game, finishing with four goal assists, while Dow set up two and won four clearances.
Dow has had a strong month, while O’Brien hasn’t featured at AFL level since Round 1. He has been marooned in the VFL, struggling to earn senior recall.
Jack Silvagni (25 disposals, six clearances) was surprisingly effective playing as the club’s sole ruckman following a pectoral injury to Tom De Koning.
De Koning was subbed out at half-time with the injury, leaving Carlton without a healthy ruckman on their list.
For the Saints, both Dougal Howard and Hunter Clark finished the game on the bench with injuries of their own.
Jack Steele continues to do everything possible for this Saints side, finishing with 36 disposals and 13 tackles and the club’s midfielders found plenty of the footy.
The Saints would have found themselves in the top eight on Saturday morning had they won this game, instead they remain on the outside looking in and are now behind Carlton, who are about to overhaul their club, on the ladder.
They made a late charge in the fourth quarter when the sting was out of the game, but a comeback was never on the cards.
What it means for a St Kilda team who had finals aspirations, only time will tell.
As for Carlton, this result won’t change the inevitable decision to move on from David Teague, but it will show prospective senior coaches what this group is capable of when absolutely everything clicks.
Charlie Curnow got through unscathed and finished the game with a big smile on his face. And that’s the biggest win of the night.
St Kilda: 3.1, 5.3, 7.7, 12.9. (81)
Carlton: 5.1, 10.1, 15.2, 18.4. (112)
St Kilda: Max King 4, Tim Membrey 2, Cooper Sharman 2, Rowan Marshall, Zak Jones, Jack Higgins, Tim Membrey
Carlton: Harry McKay 5, Sam Walsh 3, Josh Honey 2, Tom Williamson 2, Patrick Cripps, Jack Silvagni, Paddy Dow, Matt Kennedy, Charlie Curnow, Marc Murphy
St Kilda: Jack Steele, Max King, Rowan Marshall, Zak Jones, Luke Dunstan
Carlton: Harry McKay, Paddy Dow, Lochie O’Brien, Sam Walsh, Josh Honey, Jack Silvagni
St Kilda: Dougal Howard, Hunter Clark
Carlton: Tom De Koning