Crucial free to O'Brien ruled 'wrong'
Harry O'Brien goes for a mark in the final moments against St Kilda while Stephen Milne (44) lurks. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
THE decision that appeared to cost St Kilda the chance of drawing its game against Collingwood last Saturday night has been found to be wrong by the AFL.
Magpie Harry O'Brien was awarded a free kick in the last seconds of the game after he was approached front-on by St Kilda forward Stephen Milne.
But replays suggested there was little or no contact at all between the players and certainly no contact on O'Brien's arms.
An AFL spokesman said the Monday review of umpires' decisions concluded ''the free was unwarranted, and should not have been paid''.
O'Brien dropped the mark and went to ground in the incident and St Kilda utility Brendon Goddard collected the loose ball, handballing to teammate David Armitage as the whistle sounded. A goal by Armitage would have tied the scores.
St Kilda coach Scott Watters hammered a phone down in the coach's box immediately after the incident, but has since admitted umpiring decisions were not the reason for the Saints' defeat.
A second controversial non-decision from the weekend's round involving Hawthorn's Cyril Rioli and Geelong's Mitch Duncan was ticked off by the review process yesterday. Rioli tackled Duncan as he ran out of defence in the last minute of the heartstopping Hawthorn-Geelong game, dislodging the ball.
Many observers have said Duncan should have been penalised for incorrect disposal of the ball, but the umpiring department's review found that the Geelong player had not had sufficient ''prior opportunity'' to dispose of it.
''As Duncan was just starting to balance to dispose of the ball when tackled, and it came out, they were happy with the play-on call there,'' said the AFL spokesman.
A holding-the-ball decision could well have changed the result of the game since Rioli would have taken the free kick from straight in front, about 30 metres out.