'Everybody who saw it knew that was an incredibly close call.' said AFL umpires' boss Jeff Gieschen. Photo: Simon Schluter
AFL umpires' boss Jeff Gieschen has satisfied himself and the league - if not others - that seemingly inconclusive footage of a contentious scoring decision was, in fact, conclusive. Well, almost conclusive.
Overseeing a re-enactment yesterday of the much-debated moment in Saturday night's Collingwood-West Coast clash, the umpires' chief admitted: ''It's an incredibly tight call. No matter which way we go, I think people would be saying we made the wrong call.''
''We re-enacted the scenario, based around the angles we had. And we took some photographs … that showed that, in all probability, the ball had crossed the line. But we're not using that as the end all and be all.''
Gieschen said the correct verdict was reached by the group of eight AFL officials, including himself, who overruled two of the AFL's most experienced umpires and ultimately denied Collingwood what would have been its first goal.
''I'd say to people that everybody who saw it knew that was an incredibly close call. We had to make a call out of the box,'' Gieschen said in a four-minute video appraisal of the matter uploaded on the AFL's website last night.
''I suppose the easy way out would have been to say 'inconclusive'. Our feeling on the night was that it had crossed the line. When we looked at the vision in the box … we decided, yes, it has crossed the line … and then of course when we saw that rolling vision, when the ball ended up behind the post, that sort of confirmed it.''
The incident could yet have ramifications for the on-field umpires for the remainder of the finals.
The review was triggered, Gieschen said, because the officials in the box believed a rushed behind should have been declared before play was allowed to continue and Andrew Krakouer booted a goal. Umpires at the MCG cleared the major score, but it was annulled and Collingwood received only a point.
''It took a little while. We weren't 100 per cent sure whether we should intervene,'' Gieschen said.
''But because it was so close, and because there was a lot of doubt about the score, we thought we need to look at this just to make sure.
''The first reaction was, 'Gee, that looked as though it crossed the line [as a rushed behind]'. Then we sort of waited to see whether any replays came up.
''When we didn't see [any replays] immediately we thought, 'Before this ball's bounced [in the centre], we need to have a look at it, for the good of the game we need to … double check on this and just have a look to see exactly what happened'.''
Bird's-eye footage of the play was the primary piece of evidence because Gieschen said the review team thought the film taken from ground level was ''not really conclusive''.
''When we saw this bit of [overhead] vision come up immediately after … we thought, 'The ball's gone behind the post there', and that for all intents and purposes that married up with what we believed.''