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Match report: Saints extend streak over Dees to 14

Highlights: St Kilda v Melbourne The Saints and Demons clash in round 17
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17: Tim Membrey of the Saints celebrates a goal during the 2016 AFL Round 17 match between the St Kilda Saints and the Melbourne Demons at Etihad Stadium on July 17, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Tim Membrey celebrates one of his four goals

ST KILDA has extended its winning streak over Melbourne to 14 with an exciting 36-point win at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.  

The victory also moved the Saints to within two games and percentage of North Melbourne in eighth spot, keeping their very faint finals hopes alive. 

Poor conversion kept the Demons in the game for longer than they deserved to be with the Saints eventually winning 15.20 (110) to 11.8 (74).

Full match coverage and stats

After starting slow once again, the Saints clicked into gear in the second quarter with five unanswered goals and keeping Melbourne goalless in a quarter for just the second time this season. 

Their tackling pressure was too much for Melbourne and they looked like breaking the game open early in the third quarter when they shot four goals clear. 

St Kilda coach Alan Richardson was rapt with the way his team played.

"In the third quarter, I don't think we've played better footy (this season)," Richardson said.

However a series of missed set shots – the Saints kicked six behinds in succession – left the door ajar for Melbourne.

"We just couldn't capitalise … but on the whole the boys were pretty strong," Richardson said.

Five talking points: St Kilda v Melbourne

The Demons took advantage with four unanswered goals to draw within five points early in the last quarter. With Jack Viney instrumental and Max Gawn providing a tall option inside 50, they looked threatening.

Melbourne lifted around the stoppages and the Saints had dropped their pressure to just below fanatical and suddenly it was game on.

However a free kick against Jesse Hogan, which saw him reported for striking Jarryn Geary in a marking contest, a touch of desperation from Jade Gresham and the cool head of Nick Riewoldt led to a goal that broke the run of behinds. 

Suddenly with their head back above water, the Saints powered away again to kick the next two goals and seal the result.

Melbourne coach Paul Roos said the Demons did not have enough contributors to respond to the Saints' pressure.

"We didn't have enough really good individual efforts which make up a team performance for us to be competitive for long enough," Roos said.

Saints sharpshooter Tim Membrey maintained his outstanding average of three goals a game this season with three majors in the first half on his way to four for the game, while skipper Riewoldt ran ragged to provide options for teammates.

Most of the game was being played in the Saints' forward half in the second quarter but it took two goals within five minutes from veteran defender Geary just before half-time to give St Kilda the ascendancy.

Emerging Saint Tom Hickey also won the ruck battle with both coaches praising his role after the game.

By contrast Melbourne struggled to clear the ball from its own half despite scoring on the counter-attack throughout the first quarter. 

With Angus Brayshaw and the exciting Christian Petracca impressing in their first games together since being picks No.2 and No.3 in the 2014 NAB AFL Draft, and Jayden Hunt showing his usual dash from defence, the Demons showed good signs but could not handle the Saints' pressure.

It was an exciting game with both teams likely to develop into quality line-ups in the future.

MEDICAL ROOM
St Kilda: St Kilda escaped unscathed with the only question for next week being the potential availability of Patrick McCartin, who has missed the past two weeks with concussion. 
Melbourne: Sam Frost was a late withdrawal due to illness, with Josh Wagner taking his spot. Josh Wagner appeared to hurt his left ankle, while Jesse Hogan received treatment for a knock to the hip. Both played out the game. Jack Watts also had an ankle attended to in the third quarter.

NEXT UP
Melbourne heads to Perth to play West Coast. It's a big challenge for the Demons who have not won in Perth since 2004, having lost 16 in succession at Domain Stadium. The Saints face the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, with the Bulldogs having the ascendancy over the Saints in four of the past five encounters. 

ST KILDA        3.3    8.6   10.12    15.20 (110)                                         
MELBOURNE   6.2    6.5     9.7        11.8 (74)         

GOALS
St Kilda: Membrey 4, Weller 3, Geary 2, Montagna, Bruce, Riewoldt, Weller, Roberton, Dunstan
Melbourne: Petracca 2, Garlett 2, Gawn 2, Watts, vandenBerg, Hogan, Viney, Kennedy

BEST
St Kilda: Hickey, Membrey, Steven, Weller, Ross, Montagna
Melbourne: Viney, Vince, T.McDonald, Jetta, Harmes 

INJURIES 
St Kilda: Nil
Melbourne: Hogan (hip), Watts, (right ankle)

Reports: Jesse Hogan (Melbourne) for striking Jarryn Geary (St Kilda) in the fourth quarter

Umpires: Bannister, Stephens, Nicholls

Official crowd: 25,322 at Etihad Stadium