Saints crush Carlton by 71 points at MCG

St Kilda have turned up the heat on injury-riddled North Melbourne, crushing Carlton by 71 points at the MCG to remain in the AFL finals equation.

The Saints outclassed the Blues on Sunday, increasing their lead at every break to triumph 19.8 (122) to 7.9 (51).

It remains unlikely St Kilda will return to finals for the first time since 2011, having lost a veritable eight-point clash with North in round 19.

A percentage gap of 16.4 and two wins is currently the difference between eighth-placed North and the ninth-placed Saints.

That means they almost certainly won’t change spots unless St Kilda win their next three games and North lose their final three.

It is improbable but certainly not impossible.

The Kangaroos, sweating on a couple of fresh injury concerns, face Hawthorn, Sydney and Greater Western Sydney in a challenging run to September.

The Saints won’t leave Melbourne in the final three rounds, when they tackle the Swans, Richmond and Brisbane.

If Alan Richardson’s side manage to upset Sydney next weekend and the Hawks defeat North then things will get interesting.

St Kilda’s 10th win of the season wasn’t their most meaningful or memorable, with the Blues turning the ball over frequently.

But they did more than enough to deny Carlton forward Andrew Walker a win in his swansong.

St Kilda’s Luke Dunstan suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter, while an undisciplined act from Blake Acres is likely to be scrutinised by the match review panel.

Acres gave away a free-kick by flinging his arm out and striking Blues ruckman Matthew Kreuzer’s midriff in the second term.

Kreuzer was winded but played on.

St Kilda midfielders Jack Newnes, Seb Ross, Leigh Montagna and Jade Gresham got plenty of the ball and generally used it well, while skipper Nick Riewoldt clutched 15 marks.

Key forwards Tim Membrey and Josh Bruce booted a combined nine goals, benefiting from the speed at which the Saints moved the Sherrin.

The Blues went goal-less between the 14th minute of the second quarter and 22nd minute of the third term, during which the Saints piled on seven goals.

Patrick Cripps and Kade Simpson were among Carlton’s best, the former collecting a match-high 17 contested possessions.

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