Photo: Mark Woods, Sandringham Zebras.

Three points was the final margin, and another three seconds was all Sandringham may have needed to clinch a hard-fought win over Carlton on Sunday afternoon.

Leo Connolly (21 disposals, five inside-50s), hugged against the boundary line, needed only a fraction more time to hit James Van Es up for a potential match-winner on the forward flank, but was beaten by the siren as the ball hit his boot to consolidate the 9.17 (71) to 10.8 (68) result at Ikon Park.

Carlton nosed in front throughout each quarter before Sandringham repaired the scoresheet to lead at the first three changes, before edging ahead for the final time in the game’s dying stages courtesy of Ned Cahill’s third major – and fourth overall – of the term.


Jack Billings’ return from a fractured leg yielded three important goals and 22 disposals playing as a high half-forward, however it was Jack Bytel who headlined the all-round team showing with 39 disposals and nine clearances.

The duo were nevertheless standouts amid the visitors comprehensive performance, pitting well against the high numbers of Carlton’s Paddy Dow (40 disposals), Jack Carroll (39) and Jaxon Binns (29) to hold sway over their opponents until the closing minutes.

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No more than 10 points separated the two teams during the day, with debutant Sam Latrielle opening the Zebras’ account before Billings, Tom Campbell and Jack Peris combined in the four-goal start.

Campbell (29 hit-outs, 19 disposals) was a cut above for Carlton’s young rucks to contain, combining with Max Heath (16 hit-outs) for a 13-45 ascendancy in the hit-outs. But the Blues toiled hard to break even in the clearances, with Dow leading his side’s charge in what proved a match-winning hand.


Noah Gown almost won the game off his own boot with two majors in the last, while up the other end, Oscar Adams and Tom Highmore (a combined 14 rebound-50s) were especially effective in assuming the key defensive posts.

Sandringham boasted a particularly tall forward line with the inclusion of first-gamer Isaac Keeler, who was joined up forward by Heath and Campbell for most of the afternoon.

Keeler, taken by the Saints with pick No. 44 in last year’s National Draft, rounded out his day with a goal and eight touches, coming close to jagging a second in the opening minute of the third term.

The Zebras will take a week to rest with their allocated bye scheduled for Round 6, while Carlton will face Footscray on Saturday morning at ETU Stadium.

CARLTON  3.3  4.8  6.11  9.17 (71)
4.1  6.2  8.7  10.8 (68)

Cahill 4, Ronke, Plowman, Kuipers, Carroll, Binns
Sandringham: Billings 3, Gown 2, Watson, Peris, Latrielle, Keeler, Campbell

Carlton: Dow, Cahill, Fogarty, Carroll, Swaney, Binns
Sandringham: Bytel, Campbell, Billings, Adams, Gown, Bayne