ST KILDA'S rising expectations in 2017 gathered momentum on Saturday, with Josh Bruce booting seven goals in a 92-point win over Carlton at Ikon Park.
With the Blues choosing to rest their better players and testing their youth, the Saints powered to an easy 0.18.14 (122) to 0.4.6 (30) win to remain undefeated in the JLT Community Series.
Pegged as one of the competition's rising teams this season, St Kilda showcased a big-bodied midfield that bullied the younger Blues, who were disappointing for the second-straight week.
Bruce dominated in attack, but the contrast between the teams was starkest in the midfield, where the Saints have been bolstered by hard-bodied recruit Jack Steele (25 possessions and two goals).
The former Greater Western Sydney on-baller was instrumental in getting the ball going his team's way, while young Saint Jack Billings (30) continued an excellent pre-season that has him primed for a big year.
Bruce bounced back to form in a big way in a productive afternoon, while fellow tall forward Paddy McCartin pushed up the ground and finished with 12 marks and 18 possessions.
In defence, Jake Carlisle anchored a backline that pressed aggressively and continued to settle in nicely alongside recruit Nathan Brown.
Carlton chose to rest top-line players Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs, Kade Simpson and Sam Docherty, while young star Patrick Cripps played reduced minutes in his first pre-season game.
Still, the Blues' ball use and inability to stand up to the Saints' relentless defensive pressure should be a concern as they fumbled their way to a heavy defeat.
Brendon Bolton's team was also undisciplined, giving away crucial free kicks in the forward half and 50m penalties that resulted in easy goals.
A drama-free return for Cripps, after a three-month recovery from a back injury, was a positive for the Blues, as was the persistence of Jacob Weitering and exciting glimpses from Charlie Curnow in the midfield.
The Saints, who were without Nick Riewoldt and new captain Jarryn Geary, blooded their first pick from the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, Ben Long, who played the second half and converted a nice set shot.
CARLTON 0.2.2 0.3.3 0.3.4 0.18.14 (122)
ST KILDA 0.4.2 0.8.4 0.14.10 0.4.6 (30)
St Kilda: Nil
Carlton: C Curnow, Graham, Cunningham, Kerridge
St Kilda: Bruce 7, Wright 2, Steele 2, Sinclair, Minchington, Newnes, Long, Gresham, Dunstan, McCartin
Carlton: Weitering, Kerridge, White, Marchbank
St Kilda: Bruce, Steele, Billings, Steven, McCartin, Longer, Webster
Carlton: Buckley (corked thigh)
St Kilda: Nil
Umpires: DeBoy, Chamberlain, Butcher, Williamson