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Grand final bloopers left AFL no choice

'Tom Hawkins' 2009 grand final shot that shaved the goal post but was given a goal went perilously close to costing St Kilda a premiership.'

'Tom Hawkins' 2009 grand final shot that shaved the goal post but was given a goal went perilously close to costing St Kilda a premiership.' Photo: Joe Armao

THE AFL had no choice but to introduce video assistance for scoring decisions after two controversies over goals in the past three grand finals.

In 2009, Tom Hawkins' shot that shaved the goal post but was given a goal went perilously close - given the margin was only six points in Geelong's favour until after the final siren - to costing St Kilda a premiership.

Last year, a similar shot from Collingwood's Sharrod Wellingham against the Cats, proved academic.

The added safeguards, though, are something of a double-edged sword and the AFL is starting to discover the depth of the Pandora's box it may have opened.

The ''poster'' scenarios from those grand finals are the obvious examples of the worth of the new system. They're also only the tip of the iceberg.

In the 22 scoring decisions referred to video so far, only about half have concerned balls hitting the post. The rest have been about shots potentially touched or miscellaneous ''others''.

That was the category under which Jarryd Blair's match-winning goal on Anzac Day fell, given it was well clear of post and opposition hands. But was it clear of Blair's own hand after his kick off the ground? The video on The Age website showed it may indeed have brushed the Magpie's hand, despite his protestations yesterday.

In any case, the apparently legitimate goal by Tyson Goldsack overturned after a review seemed to even out the ledger. But as transparent as the AFL was yesterday in explaining the review process and hopefully soothing the concerns of Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley and Richmond's Damien Hardwick, who jumped into the debate, another issue has emerged.

Umpires director Jeff Gieschen conceded yesterday on SEN that the review of the Blair decision did not look at any potential contact with the player's hand after the ball had been kicked - a base that should have been covered. The AFL freely concedes the process is far from perfect, and that the video footage is of assistance in only about half the cases referred. That's going to remain the case while the technology consists only of a couple of camera angles that are used entirely at the discretion of the broadcaster.

Can the AFL pressure the broadcaster to install cameras in the goal posts or come up with an equivalent of cricket's Hawk-Eye or Hot Spot? At a cost around $10,000 a camera, and there are eight posts on a ground, don't hold your breath on the former. And touches of fingers on a ball up to 30 metres from goal don't make identification techniques nearly as useful as within the confines of a 20-metre cricket pitch.

What it can do, however, is standardise a procedure of checks on a disputed score. In the case of the Blair goal, the Goldsack non-goal, or a host of other examples, it might have been three or four questions, such as: was the ball kicked by an attacking player? Was it touched by any player (including the player who kicked it)? Did the ball touch any of the posts? And did it cross the scoring line fully?

The trial and (hopefully less) error will continue. But you can only keep fingers crossed it's all bedded down a little more firmly than at present when next a player in a grand final has a snap that may or may not have grazed a goal post.

40 comments

  • Very easy solution and cheap. Change the rule that any ball that passes between the goal posts, touching the post or not, is a goal. If a ball hits the post and bounces back infield, it's a point. Just like soccer

    Commenter
    Taiwan mick
    Location
    Taiwan
    Date and time
    April 27, 2012, 12:45AM
    • "Just like soccer"Fantastic Idea. And instead of a 50m arc we can draw up a penalty box, Play on a rectangular field, introduce an off side rule and abolish the use of hands. We can pay free kicks for falling over and introduce a red card system for sending off the nearest player when someone falls over holding their face. OR, we could keep the game the way it is and work on ways to reduce the <1% error rate for hit the post decisions.

      Commenter
      Mick
      Location
      Melb
      Date and time
      April 27, 2012, 9:35AM
    • Doesn't change the controversies about shots that are touched, Mick. And that's been about half those referred so far this year.

      Commenter
      Rohan Connolly
      Date and time
      April 27, 2012, 12:29PM
  • I agree, Rohan - there's a lot to be worked out yet. Looks like an idea that got ahead of technology and a thorough identification of its objectives and methodology, including the limits of its application.

    I'm amazed at all the fuss about whether or not Blair might have touched the ball and the complete non-fuss over the complete stuff-up of Goldsack's goal. Had Blair's goal been discounted and the Pies lost, I reckon Collingwood would have referred it to the Match Review Panel and those responsible at the AFL should have been fined. Does incompetent administration not bring the game into as much disrepute as a coach's comment about a bad umpiring decision? I know which leaves a nastier taste in my mouth. Duty of care extends to a good and fair administration of all aspects of the game, not just those the AFL picks and chooses.

    Commenter
    Tom Wills
    Location
    Yarra Park
    Date and time
    April 27, 2012, 1:15AM
    • Certainly needs to be a tightening up of the protocols about the referrals, right down to how they're referred by the umpires concerned. It was the words used by the goal umpire that caused problems in the Goldsack incident.

      Commenter
      Rohan Connolly
      Date and time
      April 27, 2012, 12:31PM
  • Fast forward 10 years and video replay for standard decisions like in the back will be common. Move on historians, the game is too advanced and too much on the line to get decisions wrong...no more white maggots I say!

    Commenter
    The masses
    Date and time
    April 27, 2012, 6:38AM
    • Of course we need every single piece of technology to further bastardise the game of Australian Football that is played in the AFL - there is money bet on these results so it must be vital to "get it right".

      Just ignore the fact that AFL matches are now further distanced from the footy games played all over the country each weekend, the egalitarianism that proudly marked our indigenous game has well and truly been sold out now to this corporate product.

      Commenter
      DC
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      April 27, 2012, 9:42AM
      • I think at the highest level they're obliged to use what resources available, DC. Imagine the perpetual controversy that would have surrounded Geelong's '09 grand final win had the margin been five points or less.

        Commenter
        Rohan Connolly
        Date and time
        April 27, 2012, 12:33PM
    • How about taking away the point posts so that goals are
      scored?And if a team mate or opponent touches the ball when it goes through it's still a goal.Or is it too radical?

      Commenter
      politixjunkie
      Location
      Brunswick West
      Date and time
      April 27, 2012, 10:04AM
      • Too radical for mine. All for technological assistance, but am against tampering with the scoring system that's served us well for 100-plus years.

        Commenter
        Rohan Connolly
        Date and time
        April 27, 2012, 12:34PM

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