There are many ways to describe St Kilda’s chances of playing AFL finals this year.
Mathematical, slim and unlikely. Even dubious.
But whichever way you cut it, the Saints (10-9) are still a live chance of hauling in North Melbourne (12-7) with three matches remaining and defender Sam Gilbert says that’s the main thing.
“It’s out of our control but it’s good to be spoken about. Hopefully we can continue and give ourselves every opportunity,” Gilbert said.
North Melbourne’s difficult draw – they play top four sides Hawthorn, Sydney and Greater Western Sydney in their final three rounds – is giving St Kilda cause for hope.
Even if they fall short, it’s a remarkable turnaround since May when North Melbourne were 9-0 and St Kilda had just earned their third win over easybeats Essendon.
Gilbert was clear.
The side is hell-bent on reaching the top eight this season if they can, but he could see the merit in a season where they finish just short.
“As a young group it’s great for the boys coming through,” he said.
“Tim (Membrey) and Josh (Bruce) played really pivotal roles … Gresh (Jake Gresham) and (Blake) Acres played really well yesterday.
“Obviously finals is what you play footy for.
“But we feel like as a club we’ve developed. We’ll give ourselves opportunities to make finals next year.”
The Saints feel like they could do damage if they got to the finals.
The 71-point win over Carlton was their third-straight victory at the MCG, on just the third time they’ve played there since round three last year.
Gilbert said a benefit of jumping up the ladder would be an improved draw in 2017.
The Saints didn’t feature on Friday nights this season and turned out 10 times on Sundays, and the 29-year-old said he wanted the club to return to the biggest stages next year.
“To get a Friday night or a Saturday night is the pinnacle of the game so we really look forward to getting those games as a club,” he said.
“Hopefully next year’s draw we can get a few more Saturdays and Friday nights and we get to thrive on the MCG a few more times.”