AFL 2020: Gary Ablett Dayne Zorko free kick, Sam Menegola push, umpiring, free kick count, Geelong vs Brisbane, Cats v Lions


There was a hint of cruel irony as one of the game’s greatest ever players was dealt one of the preliminary finals’ worst free kicks.

With Brisbane Lions captain Dayne Zorko streaming into an open goal in the second term, Geelong legend Gary Ablett lunges desperately at him, grabbing an arm and dispossessing him of the ball in a goal-saving tackle.

Unfortunately for Ablett, he was pinged for a push in the back. Fortunately for Cats fans, the footy gods seemed to acknowledge the dubious free, with Zorko’s set shot a shocker that went through for just the one behind.

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Preliminary Final





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Rule outrage, umpiring, Port Adelaide vs Richmond, Hamish Hartlett, finals


Footy figures are up in arms about the officiating of the deliberate out of bounds rule, which was thrust into the spotlight during Richmond’s thrilling preliminary win over Port Adelaide on Friday night.

The Tigers advanced to their third grand final in four years with a nailbiting 6.10 (46) to 6.4 (40) win over the Power but it doesn’t take much for AFL fans to find something to complain about.

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With Port down by four in the final term, Power star Hamish Hartlett was pinged for deliberately knocking the ball out of bounds and Kane Lambert took advantage of the resulting free kick to nail his round-the-body snap and extend Richmond’s lead to 10.

Under pressure in the Tigers’ forward pocket, Hartlett shovelled the ball over the boundary line and the umpire had no option but to pay a free.

“Was it deliberate? You bet it was. Great call by the umpire,” Brian Taylor said in commentary for Channel 7.

“He (Hartlett) had no other intention and I think that’s a pretty obvious decision.”

However, the interpretation of the deliberate out of bounds rule at Adelaide Oval left plenty mystified as to why the umpires were suddenly cracking down in the third-last game of the season.

The officials penalised players six times for the infringement last night, compared to 155 offences in the previous 159 games this season.

Former Crows coach Graham Cornes — father of Port legends Kane and Chad — was one of many in the game to voice their frustration.

“On a night when goals are gold how can we tolerate ridiculous deliberate of bounds interpretations?” he wrote on Twitter.

“Who has given umpires this mandate? Both teams were courageous but this modern game needs a serious overview.”

Former umpires boss Peter Schwab also hit out. “No idea by umpire. To pay DOB. Tough game and we get that,” he tweeted.

Richmond premiership player Xavier Ellis suggested the players weren’t being shown enough leniency, tweeting: “Last person to touch it – Free Kick. Personally hate it!!!”

Ex-Gold Coast Suns player Pearce Hanley added in a since-deleted tweet: “Was that deliberate out of bounds the worst umpiring call of the year or is that just me.”

Footy reporter Sam McClure said the problem with this aspect of officiating has been brewing for too long and was always going to boil over at some point.

“We’ve been ignoring the farce that is the deliberate out of rule for years now,” he wrote on Twitter. “And here we are.”

Channel 7 journalist Andrew McCormack said: “They’ve lost the plot with deliberate out of bounds. Dead set.”

Aussie comedian Dave Hughes said Port star Tom Rockliff could have made a play for the Sherrin to prevent it going out, so Hartlett shouldn’t have been punished.

“On reflection, it was just a bad decision. Rockliff was right there. He chose not to go at ball, so it went out of bounds. That’s allowed. And yes it may have cost Port the game,” Hughes said.

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Seven AFL reporter Tom Browne defended the umpires and warned against overreacting after one game, but was still surprised at the crackdown.

“I was surprised by the deliberate interpretation last night, and don’t know why it was more strict on the night (almost rule of the week stuff), but felt it was consistent all night,” Browne tweeted.

“It’s a good rule. So I don’t think it’s fair to use one outlier game to argue the rule is a disaster or anything like that. Many aspects of umpiring AFL are partly or largely subjective. This is one of them.

“I think the umpires did a pretty good job and didn’t have a massive bearing on the outcome.”

COACHES WEIGH IN

The coaches weren’t willing to play the blame game, sympathising with the umpires for doing a difficult job in a high pressure situation.

“It’s a difficult one. The game is really hard to adjudicate with those ones,” Richmond mentor Damien Hardwick said.

“I think the consistency level, if it is we’re happy with it once again, as long as it is consistent, we will play with whatever rules are out there.

“There’s probably a couple in the conditions that were a bit tough, but it’s a high pressure game. The umpires are under high pressure as well. I thought they did a pretty good job on the night.”

Port coach Ken Hinkley refused to pin his side’s woes on the Hartlett call or the rule interpretation throughout the game.

“It doesn’t matter. Umpires paid it as deliberate out of bounds, I’m not going to judge the umpires. It’s a high pressure game for them too,” Hinkley said.

“It hurts, but we lost the game and it wasn’t one play or one bit of the play. I never sit there and get too focused on one decision.

“Everyone will because it was in the last quarter and they kick a goal from it and it’s a six-point margin. But not for me, it’s a hard game to umpire.”



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AFL 2020, holding the ball, rules, umpiring, Fremantle, GWS Giants, David King, Fox Footy


Confusion is once again growing across the AFL world following another spate of unclear holding the ball incidents.

The most telling incident during the Fremantle and GWS clash on Saturday came from a call late in the third term.

Young Docker Adam Cerra was penalised after failing to dispose of the ball inside defensive 50.

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Round 14

Confusion reigns in the West

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AFL players frustrated by holding-the-ball decisions as league admits to umpiring errors



Adelaide forward Taylor Walker says tough new holding-the-ball interpretations have changed the way AFL players approach contests in recent weeks.

A mid-season league directive led umpires to tighten the adjudication of the rule and subsequent inconsistencies have frustrated players, coaches and fans alike.

It followed scathing criticism from Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson last month about the congested state of the game and the perceived failure of umpires to reward tacklers.

The debate has raged in recent weeks and was reignited on Monday night after a series of contentious holding-the-ball decisions during St Kilda’s 23-point win over Adelaide.

This afternoon, the AFL conceded there were multiple cases of “missed or unwarranted free kicks” during last night’s match at Adelaide.

“I actually do feel a little bit for the umpires at the moment with the holding-the-ball issue,” former Crows captain Walker said.

“It’s been raised in the industry and now I feel it’s making it tougher and tougher for our umpires to adjudicate the game.”

Walker said players were now accepting being second to the ball rather than trying to win it, because of the way holding the ball is being adjudicated.

“You can clearly see that blokes are now thinking twice about, ‘Do I get the ball and then get tackled or do I let someone else get it and I’ll tackle them?'” he said.

Earlier this season, the AFL sent a memo to clubs emphasising the specifics of the holding-the-ball rule.

The memo read: “Where a player is in possession of the football and has not had prior opportunity, a field umpire shall award a free kick if the player is able to, but does not, make a genuine attempt to correctly dispose of the football when legally tackled.”

AFL football operations general manager Steve Hocking said errors had been made during the Crows-Saints clash.

“We acknowledge there were decisions in [Monday] night’s game that were either missed or unwarranted free kicks and we will continue to work towards ensuring stronger consistency in decision making, particularly with regards to holding-the-ball decisions,” he said.

AAP



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