Blake Acres celebrates a goal during Carlton's clash against St Kilda in round 21, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

MICHAEL Voss labelled Carlton's come-from-behind 19-point win over St Kilda as one of the club's best in his time as coach, but he's not yet ready to dream about a finals run.

The Blues moved up to fifth on the ladder with their seventh straight victory, fuelling belief they can end their 10-year wait for finals footy, having not qualified for the top eight since 2013.

SAINTS v BLUES Full match coverage and stats

Voss' side trailed by 22 points at half-time but ramped up their contest work, smashing the Saints 22-8 in clearances in the second half to extend its remarkable winning run, having been 15th with a 4-1-8 record after round 13 before starting its streak.

That has come after Carlton last year appeared destined for the finals in Voss' first season in charge before losing its final four games, including a one-point round 23 defeat to Collingwood, to heartbreakingly miss out.

"It's certainly one of, if not, the best wins since I've been here," Voss said. "The Saints brought some serious heat, especially in the second quarter, so they asked a lot of questions of us. I think there's something in it when a team can absorb pressure.


"I'm just so pleased we were able to absorb that and come out and answer that. I think that's such a special trait to be able to have. It shows a real resilience in the group. As we started to gather some momentum, the crowd came with us. It was pretty special.

"It wasn't all going for us. To be able to reset ourselves at half-time, come out and correct a few things, says a lot about the group, says a lot about their mindset and where they're at, says a lot about their confidence that they've got, says a bit about their belief in our system. Our second half was compelling."

The result has Blues fans daring to dream given their climb to fifth as the arguable form team in the competition, but Voss wasn't willing to engage in that.

"Each challenge has been big enough to focus in on that, so we've stayed present to that," he said. "You're not afforded to drift or the opportunity to look too far forward and wonder what that actually looks like.

"What we've got a lot of benefit out of is working on our game and staying completely present to one another and enjoying what we're doing. I see no reason why we'd change that. We've got Melbourne next week, they're going pretty well as well. It's dangerous to cast your mind any further than that."


Voss hailed the depth of his side which was missing Sam Walsh, Harry McKay, Matthew Kennedy, Jack Silvagni and Adam Cerra to injuries.

That depth was called upon with Callum Wilkie keeping Charlie Curnow to only one goal, while Patrick Cripps' influence was impacted somewhat, managing 24 touches, while half-back Adam Saad only had 11 disposals.

"I think that's been the trademark of us for the last four to five weeks," he said. "We've had some role players that have been able to get jobs done."

Voss praised Paddy Dow, in his seventh game for the year, as one of those depth players who contributed strongly, finishing with 22 disposals and the go-ahead goal.

The Blues coach, however, admitted he was planning on subbing out Dow before his fourth-quarter goal, which changed his mind.

"I thought the crowd may have torn down the stands if I actually subbed him," Voss laughed. "I thought we better leave him on but what a great moment to be able to take that moment.


"Guys like him and Fog (Lachie Fogarty), I'm just so impressed with their persistence through disappointment. Clearly they want to be AFL players, to be able to persist and play a role for us right now has been really impressive. We've got a lot of guys in our team right now in the same boat who've had to earn their way back in."

While the result enhanced Carlton's finals hopes, it severely dented St Kilda's, having lost three of its past five games and slipping to seventh with three rounds to play.

Saints coach Ross Lyon said their midfield got "obliterated" by Carlton's onball brigade after half-time, meaning they struggled for territory, losing second-half inside 50s 31-19 and scoring only one goal after the main interval.

"After half-time they obliterated us, which is really disappointing because nothing really changed," he said.


"They just dominated and it just lived in our back half. Our midfield, which has been pretty good all year, just couldn't touch the ball. They didn't lay a glove on it. That division and that aspect of the game didn't deliver. It's been Carlton's strength and they did it.

"We've identified it. We'll review it. There's no recriminations. Sometimes you just get beaten but it's hard to swallow because I didn't see it exactly coming. Second halves have been our strength."

In its final three games with its top-eight aspirations on the line, St Kilda hosts Richmond and Geelong at Marvel Stadium, before a tough assignment away to Brisbane in round 24.

"It's not always about the ladder," Lyon said. "It's just about improving your footy and feeling good about yourself.

"If you play good footy, the wins come. We need to be better… our group has been very honest. There was no ranting or raving. They'll be hurting. It's a narrow window of improvement. But we're alive. We get another opportunity to deliver next week."