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Match report: Finally, the Saints stay alive

Highlights: Carlton v St Kilda The Blues and Saints clash in round 20
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 07: Tim Membrey of the Saints is tackled by Zach Tuohy of the Blues during the 2016 AFL Round 20 match between the Carlton Blues and the St Kilda Saints at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 07, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Tim Membrey and Zach Tuohy clash on Sunday afternoon

A BAG of five goals to St Kilda's Tim Membrey has helped hand Carlton its biggest loss of the season, a 71-point thumping  at the MCG on Sunday afternoon, and keep alive the Saints' slim finals hopes.

It was an inglorious end to Blues veteran Andrew Walker's career, who finished on 202 games after struggling with knee issues, as St Kilda won 19.8 (122) to 7.9 (51).

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The Saints need to win their remaining three games if they are to see September action, while North Melbourne must lose its last three.

However, with the Roos to face Hawthorn, the Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney, and with St Kilda only facing one top-eight team in the Swans, Alan Richardson's men could yet be alive at the pointy end of the season.

St Kilda came out with its typical high level of pressure and Carlton seemed unable to handle the intensity, lacking composure with the ball.

It was certainly an aspect that left Richardson happy.

"We were really strong and committed to controlling the opposition. We had 40 midfield turnovers, eight turnovers in the front half, and we kicked 11.5 from turnovers, from defending really aggressively," he said after the game. 

"We've had 17 smothers, so the want for our guys to continue to get after the Blues, even when things were going our way, we're really pleased with that. 

"It was much more about our method than individuals, so that was probably the most pleasing thing." 

PLAYER FOCUS: How Jack Steven turned a heavy tag into a win

Jack Billings' hard running was a feature for St Kilda and he finished with two goals, his first after he came floating across to take a nice mark in the forward line.

Carlton was occasionally wasteful in front of goal when it did have opportunities. A Levi Casboult miss from 20m out, straight in front, was one such example.

Zach Tuohy had moments both good and bad throughout the contest, but when he booted one home from just outside the centre square in the second term, the Blues were back within 16 points and appeared to be building momentum.

However, St Kilda would respond with the final four goals of the half, including one to Membrey right on the siren. His final tally was the second time he had kicked five goals against the Blues this season.

The second half began in similar fashion before Patrick Cripps ended a run of eight goals for the Saints after he slotted one on the run in the third term.

Blues coach Brendon Bolton said his side looked fatigued after a competitive last three weeks, with losses against top-four contenders for a combined margin of just 32 points. 

"We looked a little tired and sluggish today on the back of some really close and hard-fought games in the last month," he said. 

"The job now is to give players guidance and leaders to give other players guidance on improvement areas." 

Carlton: The Blues emerged unscathed.

St Kilda: Seb Ross copped a big hit from Jack Silvagni in the second quarter and went to the bench shortly afterwards but quickly declared himself fit. Nathan Wright was another to be hit hard in the back at the end of that term and received treatment, but eventually came back on. He had the tracksuit on to start the final term but was forced back on the field after Luke Dunstan injured his left shoulder as he attempted to tackle Ed Curnow. He came back to the bench in a sling. Surgery is a possibility and he is expected to miss the rest of the season.

The Blues have a chance to end an eight-match losing streak against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba next Saturday afternoon. That night, St Kilda must defeat the Swans at Etihad Stadium to have any chance of making finals.

CARLTON      1.2   3.5   6.7   7.9 (51)
ST KILDA      4.3   10.5 14.6  19.8 (122)  

Membrey 5, Bruce 4, Billings 2, Wright, Acres, Armitage, Weller, Roberton, Riewoldt, Hickey, Newnes
St Kilda: Tuohy 3, Cripps 2, Gibbs, Armfield    

Cripps, Simpson, Tuohy, Gibbs, Docherty, Curnow
St Kilda: Newnes, Ross, Membrey, Gresham, Ross, Montagna, Billings, Dempster

St Kilda: Dunstan (shoulder)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Stevic, O'Gorman, Ryan  

Official crowd: 37,797 at the MCG

Andrew Walker leaves the MCG for the final time. Picture: AFL Photos