'Goodness gracious': AFL erupts over umpiring howler

Geelong's Patrick Dangerfield is pictured throwing the ball to teammate Gary Ablett Jr.
Geelong's Patrick Dangerfield earned a raucous round of booing from the Gabba crowd after getting away with this throw that lead to a crucial Gary Ablett Jr goal in the AFL preliminary final against Brisbane. Picture: Channel 7

Geelong veteran Gary Ablett's storied AFL career will end on the biggest stage with the Cats through to next Saturday's grand final.

The dual Brownlow Medallist was an influential figure in the Cats' 40-point win over Brisbane at the Gabba as they secured a spot in the premiership decider against Richmond.

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It means the 357th and final game of Ablett's honour-laden career will be a grand final and a chance at a third premiership.

The 36-year-old played a key role in getting the Cats over the Lions, showing all of his big-match experience in the third quarter.

The eight-time All-Australian kicked his first goal after a clear throw from Patrick Dangerfield that was missed by the umpires, prompting outrage from fans watching at home and boos inside the Gabba as replays were shown.

“I wonder whether this was a throw or not,” Channel 7’s Brian Taylor wondered aloud on commentary.

“Hard to see from that. Impossible to call as an umpire with so many players around, but it was (a throw).

“The crowd have just seen it. We’ve just seen it. We had some doubts over it.

“Watch this. Oh, boy. Goodness gracious me. The crowd’s gone bananas.”

While fans blew up about the throw, fellow commentator Wayne Carey came to the defence of the umpires, who had been blindsided by the pack of players surrounding the ball at the time.

“How is the umpire meant to pick up on that though? He can’t see it,” Carey said.

His second goal was all class though - bursting clear from a centre bounce, Ablett carried the ball forward to the 50m arc and unleashed a right foot kick which just had enough distance to get through.

In the end Ablett finished with 14 disposals and four tackles in the match as well as his two goals.

"Fantastic ... we're going to a grand final," Ablett told Fox Footy after the game.

"But job's not done."

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Mitch Duncan, Sam Menegola and Patrick Dangerfield were all important for the Cats and Coleman medallist Tom Hawkins kicked two goals in an entertaining duel with Harris Andrews.

Small forward Gary Rohan finished with three majors, completing his haul with a set shot after the final siren to complete the 11.16 (82) to 6.6 (42) victory.

Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale overcame a slow start to finish with 24 disposals, eight clearances and two goals for the Lions, but was part of a midfield unit that was outworked and outmuscled for significant periods.

Geelong's triumph in front of 29,121 fans - predominantly favouring Brisbane - came after four successive defeats in preliminary finals and set up the first all-Victorian grand final since their last appearance in 2011.

Geelong's Gary Ablett Jr is pictured celebrating with teammates after winning the AFL preliminary final against Brisbane.
Geelong's Gary Ablett Jr will play his final AFL match in next week's Grand Final against Richmond. (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

"Finals are hard to earn your way into in this competition," Cats coach Chris Scott said.

"It's getting harder and harder in an equalised competition and we're really respectful of the quality of the other teams.

"So to work so hard this year in trying circumstances to give ourselves the chance to taste the ultimate success is a credit to our club, not just our players and our administrators, but the way our whole club and our supporters have embraced the challenge of this year.

"I'm really proud of them."

With AAP

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