Alarm bells in defence for Blues in AFL

Carlton coach Brett Ratten says alarm bells are ringing over the ease with which St Kilda pierced his AFL side’s defence.

The Blues’ coach is also worried his players have lost the fanatical zeal to pressure the opposition they had in the opening rounds.

Carlton took the ball into attack more often than the Saints on Monday night, but still conceded the biggest score they have all season, losing 19.8 (122) to 14.14 (98).

St Kilda small forwards Stephen Milne, Terry Milera and Ahmed Saad ripped the Blues’ defence apart, with nine goals between them.

Ratten said the worry was that Carlton often had extra numbers in defence but still couldn’t stop the Saints’ flow of goals.

“It was just alarm bells for us that we’ve still got a fair bit of work to do in that area of the game,” the Blues’ coach said.

“We knew the way they were going to play – we’ve watched them over the past few weeks.

“They get a lot of numbers up and they try to create space out the back.

“We knew that was going to come and we had an extra player back there at times and still our ability to win that contest, you would think we would and we didn’t.

“That was quite alarming.”

Another concern was that Carlton dominated the hit-out count 60-25 yet still lost the clearances.

“Full credit to them, they hunted us and they really got after us,” he said.

Ratten said the Blues needed to return to hunting their opposition, as they had in the first three rounds.

“Our intensity and how fanatical we were to put heat on the opposition (in the early rounds) was very good,” he said.

“I think that’s dropped away.”

The drop-off followed the huge round-three win over Collingwood, which catapulted the Blues into premiership favouritism, but Ratten denied his side had got ahead of themselves.

Saints’ coach Scott Watters said a strong defensive mindset and desire to win the contested ball would continue to underpin his team’s approach.

But he was thrilled with the damage his fleet of small forwards caused, with the club having previously leant heavily on big men Nick Riewoldt, Justin Koschitzke and Rhys Stanley.

“We’re probably just starting to see some progression in some different types of forward line set-ups that we need our club to progress through,” Watters said.

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