Geelong’s thrilling one-point victory over the Brisbane Lions has been marred by a couple of “horrendous” umpiring decisions, which left the AFL community fuming.
The round two clash at GMHBA Stadium ended in controversial circumstances, with the hosts ultimately securing a gritty 12.9 (81) to 11.4 (80) victory.
But all the debate after the game was about the questionable umpiring, which potentially robbed the Lions of a last-minute shot at goal.
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Brisbane was trailing by two points with less than 30 second remaining on the clock when Geelong’s Isaac Smith handballed the Sherrin to teammate Mark Blicavs.
Lions young gun Zac Bailey pounced on his unsuspecting opponent, tackling Blicavs to the deck directly in front of the posts.
The Cats defender failed to handball or kick the footy, yet the umpires bizarrely ignored Brisbane’s pleas and did not ping Blicavs for incorrectly disposing the ball.
Footy fans brashly voiced their disgust at the decision, arguing the Lions should have been given a free kick for holding the ball.
AFL journalist James Mottershead tweeted: “Brisbane has been utterly stitched up here. Umpires too worried about standing on the mark and have forgotten other rules. As bad as it gets.”
Injured Lions star Cameron Rayner posted to Instagram: “Got to be kidding me.”
Lions great Jonathan Brown told Fox Footy after the match: “That was an absolute howler from the umpire.
“How do you miss that? How do you miss that?
“You can’t make the argument the umpire was in the wrong spot. He was in the perfect spot.”
Former St Kilda star Nick Riewoldt agreed: “It’s a free kick — plain and simple.”
Gerard Whateley told AFL Nation: “100 times out of 100 it’s holding the ball. It can’t be debated in any way. It is the worst error and Bailey should’ve been having a shot from point blank.”
AFL icon Brian Taylor said on Channel 7: “That is a deadset free kick. If you take them on, you don’t dispose of the ball by hand or foot while you’re being tackled, it is a free kick.”
Channel 7 commentator James Brayshaw echoed his comments: “A massive bullet dodged by the Cats … that’s a howler.”
After the win, Blicavs told ABC Grandstand that he “didn’t have prior” — a contentious claim to say the very least.
Unfortunately, this was not the only umpiring controversy during Friday evening’s match.
In the third term, Cats midfielder Cameron Guthrie retrieved a loose ball in the forward 50 before he was grabbed by Brisbane defender Brandon Starcevich.
Guthrie awkwardly passed the Sherrin to teammate Joel Selwood, who booted the footy through the stick for a much-needed goal.
But several viewers at home believed it was an illegal disposal, rather than a regulation handball.
Considering the game was ultimately decided by one point, the decision could have also potentially altered the final outcome.
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The Guardian’s Greg Jericho tweeted: “Terrible umpiring … Holding the ball and then a throw. Nah play on. FFS.
“Absolute rugby throw. What a way to ruin a game.”
ABC broadcaster Quentin Hill posted: “Handoffs and rugby passes. I know I can get a little confused some Friday’s flicking between codes but last I checked a handball is required to move the ball by hand at Kardinia Park.”
Speaking to reporters after the victory, Geelong coach Chris Scott conceded: “It’s a hard game to umpire.”
Brisbane forward Eric Hipwood kicked a game-high four goals at GMHBA Stadium, while Tom Hawkins contributed three majors for Geelong.
The Lions are yet to register a victory after two rounds this season.