18/05/2024

Abbie McKay fights her way through a tackle. (Image: Carlton FC)

After a tough month of football plagued by frustrating results and injury troubles, a more attacking style of play has allowed Carlton to secure its first victory since Round Two, defeating St Kilda by 27 points at RSEA Park.

From the outset, it was clear that the Blues intended to play a more aggressive style of football. It was different to what we have seen from them in previous weeks, but the Saints had no answer to it all day.

With superstar forward Darcy Vescio embracing their new role off half-back, the Blues performed brilliantly as a unit. They moved the ball well all night, creating plenty of opportunities and forcing the Saints players to work hard behind the ball.

Carlton ruck Breann Moody was dominant throughout the game, collecting 22 hitouts, as well as hitting the scoreboard with two huge goals. She was helped out in the ruck by Jess Good who also had 21 hitouts of her own. With Saints ruck Simone Nalder going down injured and Erin McKinnon yet to return from the concussion she sustained in Round Five, the remaining Saints talls couldn’t contain the pairing.

Speaking exclusively with The Inner Sanctum, Carlton defender Lucy McEvoy says the change in style from the Blues was something they focused on throughout the week after the difficult month of footy they have had.

“We sort of felt like we were playing a bit boring just kicking it long down the line every week, and the main focus this week was our ball movement and being a bit more aggressive,” she said.

“[We were] really trying to press up in attack and get involved, and we were able to generate quite a few inside-50s from it which was really great.”

A lot of the Blues’ strong ball movement and attacking opportunity was facilitated through the dominance of midfield stars Abbie McKay and Mimi Hill, who both performed brilliantly once again. McKay was stellar in the middle collecting 26 possessions, along with five tackles and four clearances, while Hill also made a big impact with 26 touches of her own, and eight clearances.

McEvoy lauded the pair for their efforts, explaining how much easier it is to create chances with the two of them in the middle.

“Their work rate is some of the best I’ve ever seen. You just know that they’re going to be in spots that we need them to be and we want to be getting the ball in their hands so they can run and carry, and kick it long. [Those are] their strengths,” she said.

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McEvoy also had a very solid game herself in defence. With 17 disposals and five marks, she was a key cog in the Blues backline which kept the Saints to their lowest score of the year.

She spoke about how she has felt since returning from her shoulder injury, and how a consistent run of games this season has helped her in her development.

“It’s been good having not too many niggles outside of the shoulder, and playing consistently down back has allowed me to just settle a little bit more and obviously I’ve been a little bit down on form, but it’s really pleasing to be able to get back up there tonight, get a little bit more of the ball, and defend really strongly,” she said.

The Blues have a huge final three weeks coming up, with games against the Tigers, Suns, and Dogs who are all fighting for a finals spot. However, McEvoy hopes that their new game plan will translate well in those games and that a strong end to the season will give them a chance at sneaking into finals contention.

“Obviously we’ll tweak (the game plan) where necessary. One size doesn’t fit all. We’ll understand that and we’ll adjust,” she explained.

“The aim for us is to keep our ball movement really attacking and not to go back to that sort of boring footy. I feel like we set the standard for ourselves tonight to do that moving forward in the next three weeks.”

Carlton will look for a second consecutive win next week as they host Richmond at Ikon Park, while St Kilda will head to Mars Stadium in Ballarat to take on the Western Bulldogs.

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