15 June, 2024
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AFL ticks off free kick as Magpies fume after draw

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A controversial free kick paid against Collingwood for time wasting late in their draw against Fremantle was officiated correctly, the AFL says.

The Magpies led by 25 points with just over seven minutes remaining on Friday night before Fremantle stormed home with four quick goals to snatch a share of the spoils in front of 54,035 fans at Optus Stadium.

The big talking point after the Magpies finished with 10.15 (75) to Fremantle’s 11.9 (75) was Mathew Nichols’ decision to penalise Collingwood’s Lachlan Sullivan for handing teammate Nick Daicos the ball instead of returning it to the umpire after a ball-up was called.

“You gave the ball to him, you have to give it to me,” Nichols told Sullivan, before addressing other confused Collingwood players.

“He handed the ball to a teammate, you’re not allowed to do that.”

Sean Darcy nailed the ensuing set shot from just 15m out, reducing the margin to 13 points with six minutes remaining in what proved to be a huge turning point.

In a statement on Saturday, the AFL said “time wasting” was correctly paid against Sullivan for handing the ball to another player rather than the umpire.

The league confirmed time wasting free kicks had been paid four times previously this season.

Immediately after Friday night’s match, Collingwood coach Craig McRae said he would be eagerly awaiting the league’s thoughts on the free kick that cost his side victory.

The Magpies’ 2023 premiership coach was left baffled by the decision.

“I’m looking forward to what the AFL tell us about that, because I wasn’t aware that’s a free kick,” McRae said. 

“But maybe clearly it is because they don’t pay things that aren’t there. 

“So looking forward to see what they say.

“At that moment, I was confused because I was told that he (Nick Daicos) touched the umpire.

“I was unaware of what actually happened until afterwards.”

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir felt it was a fair free kick to be paid.

“I’ve seen that paid before,” Longmuir said. 

“It’s time-wasting isn’t it? That’s why the umpire would have paid it.”

 McRae didn’t think the moment flustered his players.

“I just assume that he’s umpiring to the letter of the law,” McRae said.

“I’d like to think it didn’t fluster us, let’s move on. Let’s go with what’s next, because that’s all you can control. 

“And if the umpires come out and say, ‘that was a mistake’, that doesn’t help us either. We’re just moving on. 

“The reality is it’s probably a free kick and we move on.”

The AFL cracked down on the time wasting practice in 2022.

Then, during last year’s finals series, the league sent a memo to clubs after noticing players using the tactic to give teammates time to set up structures around the ground.

The memo to clubs included the reference: “Time wasting – we have also seen some recent examples where players have not given the ball straight back to the umpire when a stoppage is called.

“Players are reminded that if they are in possession of the ball and the umpire calls for a ball up to either leave the ball on the ground, or give the ball directly to the umpire (as opposed to another player).”

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