Blues break drought to sink Saints

IT has been a long time between drinks for the Blues, being able to sing the song for the first time since Round 2 thanks to a comprehensive win over the Saints. Since their one-point win over Essendon, Carlton settled for two draws, and then suffered two disappointing losses, but was able to get back on track at RSEA Park last night, handing St Kilda its fifth straight loss of the season.

In a dominant Round 7 performance, the Blues kept the Saints to two behinds for three quarters – scoreless in two of them – and built a 35-point lead heading into the last term. Though the home team did kick a couple of majors in the final term to outscore Carlton, the Blues still took home the chocolates, 6.8 (44) to 2.5 (17). Coach Daniel Harford was particularly pleased with gaining for points for the first time in five rounds.

“Much better than the alternative isn’t it? Nah really proud of the crew, and the way they set the game up through the week. we were able to go out there and do it,” Harford said. That’s more of an exhibition about what we are, what we’re capable of I think and we haven’t really given ourselves that chance too often I think for many and varies. But we did it tonight on the back of a fair bit of pressure and a performance that was sub-par last week. Just extraordinarily proud of them the way they did it.”

The Blues were able to mix a combination of run and carry, with immense forward half pressure to finally look like a top eight contender, winning 49 more disposals, having 20 more inside 50s and taking nine contested marks to nil. When asked whether the Blues’ goal was to move the ball into space, Harford said that was the main aim for most teams.

“Space is your friend isn’t it? If you can find a teammate in space then it’s much easier than having to barge through the numbers all the time,” Harford said. We’ve just resorted to perhaps too often trying to barge through and surge through numbers. It’s not effective, or it certainly hasn’t been effective for us. It was just an ability to reset that movement patten and try and make it a bit more beneficial for us in the way we want to play the game and move the ball.

“It’s not revolutionary by any stretch of the imagination, but it just gives you a chance to take possession and take some time with the ball and move it the way you want to move it and hopefully end up in a position to move it into your forward half and forward 50 like everyone’s trying to do and we did that really well tonight.”

Once the ball was inside 50, the Blues laid a whopping 25 inside 50 tackles. Harford said he wanted his players to reduce the amount of “ping-ponging” or “trampolining” from one end to the other, and lock the ball inside 50.

“You don’t try and get 25 a week, but we try and put some forward pressure in and I think some of the makeup of the players in that area of the ground tonight helped with that and they really bought in to really do that and the forward half numbers are through the roof,” Harford said. That’s a nice way to play footy isn’t it? It takes the pressure off your defenders and not having to work so hard and gives you a chance to score which we haven’t been able to do effectively for however long, but we did much better tonight.”

One of the key magnet shuffles for the game was moving all-time club leading goalkicker Darcy Vescio into defence to provide a different look to the back five.

“Yeah loved it, been thinking about it for a while,” Harford said. “Darce probably hasn’t had had the year they would have liked impact wise in our forward half. In fairness none of our forward half players have because the ball hasn’t been there very often. Such a creative player, great read of the ball, we thought we might be able to get them into the game a bit and then we could benefit from that and I think we saw the results of that.”

The Blues coach also praised the work of Gabriella Pound in her forward role, as well as ruck duo Breann Moody and Jess Good who teamed up well against an undermanned Saints division.

” I thought Gab was enormous and her pressure even though it wasn’t real it wasn’t physical, it was perceived pressure to a lot of, just hunting. But groundball capabilities, feeding to teammates, I thought Gab’s impact in our forward 50 in particular was enormous tonight,” Harford said.

“The way that they (Moody and Good) moved themselves between ruck and forward in the game was really, really positive for us. Moods certainly gets an opportunity to exploit her experience against more inexperienced opponents and she’s an unbelievable athlete as I’ve said many times.

“To have the sidekick riding shotgun with you and just doing such a good job like Goody was tonight, it gives Moods a bit more confidence that she can free up a bit and not having to worry about dominating all the way through the game.”

Carlton has a massive game in Round 8 on Friday night, hosting the in-form Richmond at Ikon Park from 6:30pm on October 14.

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