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St Kilda Saints coach Alan Richardson will embrace the finals ‘noise’

Saints Josh Bruce, Luke Dunstan Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna belt out the song after their win against Carlton on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images St Kilda coach Alan Richardson will embrace the “noise” of finals talk from outside the club this week after his team kept their slim September hopes alive with a crushing 71-point win over Carlton on Sunday.
Nanjing Night Net

The result moved the Saints up to ninth spot and two games behind eighth-placed North Melbourne, ensuring the heat remains on the Kangaroos with three weeks left in the home-and-away season.

Given St Kilda’s percentage is vastly inferior to North Melbourne’s, they will most probably have to win all three of their remaining games and hope the Kangas fail to win another match to squeeze into the finals.

Richardson said he wouldn’t be making a big deal of his side’s top-eight hopes during the week but would acknowledge the situation in some way ahead of their season-defining clash with the rampaging Sydney Swans at Etihad Stadium next Saturday.

“We’d much rather be in a position where we have control over whether we play finals or not, so we’ve still got a fair bit of work to do, there’s no doubt about that,” Richardson said after the match.

“Having said that, it’s pleasing. It’s good for our guys.”

Richardson didn’t expect the external finals talk to affect the way his side played their footy.

“It was the Western Bulldogs game [in round 18] when all of that noise [finals talk] started and we played really strong footy that night,” he said.

“Call it pressure, call it expectation, call it potentially noise that was going to distract [but[ the guys played really strong, aggressive footy and took the game on.

“So if that’s the lead-in to what we’re going to get against Sydney then that’s positive.”

Richardson admitted it could have been easy for his men to drop their bundle after their finals hopes were severely dented in their loss to North Melbourne last week, but praised them for staying focused on the job at hand against the Blues.

The Saints coach was most impressed by his team’s even contribution on Sunday and their lack of reliance on star players such as Nick Riewoldt and Jack Steven.

Youngster Jade Gresham in particular benefited from the close tag applied to Steven as the first-year player got off the chain to produce his best game to date with a personal best 25 touches, 13 contested possessions and eight clearances.

“He’s quickly becoming one of those guys that you want in the front half and you want in and around ball,” Richardson said of Gresham.

“When we were struggling with clearances, we put him in there. His second quarter when he had six clearances and 10 possessions really did start to positively turn it our way.”

Richardson also lauded Tim Membrey who booted his fourth five-goal bag of the season and now has 39 goals from 14 games in 2016.

“He’s a great example to our group that if you work hard, you end up with positive results,” Richardson said.

The news wasn’t as good for Luke Dunstan, though, with his season looking seemingly over after he dislocated his shoulder in the final quarter.

“It doesn’t look great, it’s likely that he will have to have surgery,” Richardson said.

“Disappointing for Luke. It’s yet to be confirmed but the early diagnosis is that’s what it looks like.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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