The AFL world has once again erupted over the standard of umpiring after a number of contentious holding the ball decisions in West Coast’s win over Carlton on Sunday.
The Blues led by 19 points early in the third quarter, but West Coast went on a scoring blitz to secure the 11.6 (72) to 7.8 (50) win in front of 19,092 fans.
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The most controversial moment of the match came in the second quarter when Carlton defender Sam Petrevski-Seton got pinged for holding the ball.
Petrevski-Seton was powerless to get a disposal away after having his arms pinned in a bear-hug tackle from Jack Darling as soon as he got the ball.
The 22-year-old expressed his disbelief when the free kick was paid, with the subsequent 50m penalty gifting the Eagles a lucky goal.
Fans and commentators also lashed out at the baffling call.
“Definitely no prior opportunity there,” Brian Taylor said in commentary for Channel 7.
Geelong great Cameron Ling added: “He was wrapped up straight away by a man a hell of a lot bigger than him. What’s he asking Sam Petrevski-Seton to do here?”
And AFLW star Daisy Parce agreed, saying: “Absolutely no prior opportunity. He’s given up trying to get it out because he’s got one of the biggest guys on the ground laying on top of him, keeping the ball in.”
The call also left footy fans seething on social media, with many labelling it “horrific” and “disgraceful.”
“Anyone watching the @AFL game in Perth now knows how ridiculously inconsistent that holding the ball was. Worst decision of the year. What a joke,” Dave Hughes tweeted.
Brendan Fevola added: “That’s a disgrace umpire 22 as always horrific!!! What’s the player supposed to do s*** it out.”
While Dylan Alcott wrote: “That was a horrific call and then 50m … HORRIFIC.”
— Dave Hughes (@DHughesy) August 9, 2020
That’s a disgrace umpire 22 as always horrific!!! What’s the player supposed to do shit it out 🤦♂️
— Brendan Fevola (@BrendanFevola25) August 9, 2020
That was a horrific call and then 50m... HORRIFIC #AFLEaglesBlues
— Dylan Alcott (@DylanAlcott) August 9, 2020
Oh my god, @AFL holding the ball has ruined our game. Do something about it.
— Nicholas Graham (@nickeygraham) August 9, 2020
Carlton ‘seeking a fair bit of clarity’ from AFL
There were a number of other decisions - or non decisions - during the game that also left fans scratching their head.
“Our players are seeking a fair bit of clarity around it at the moment,” Carlton coach David Teague said after the game.
“It's a hard one. Any time you change an interpretation through the season, it's quite hard - as much for the umpires - to adjudicate.
“Whether the umpires felt that was right or wrong that call, I don't know because they're going to make mistakes as well.
“So it's hard for us as coaches and players to understand which one was an error and which one wasn't to get a pattern going forward.”
Teague says he will continue to implore his players to win the ball, despite the risk of being pinged for holding the ball.
West Coast set up the win with a four-goal blitz inside the final four minutes of the third quarter.
Eagles midfielder Dom Sheed was best afield with 26 disposals, nine clearances and two goals, while Nic Naitanui (41 hitouts, seven clearances) was a dominant force in the ruck.
The Blues lost Jack Martin to a calf injury in the second quarter, while ruckman Marc Pittonet spent about 30 minutes off the field with a finger injury.
Fisher finished with 4.0 from 12 disposals in a career-best display, while star midfielder Patrick Cripps tallied 19 disposals and eight clearances despite spending long stints up forward.
West Coast's sixth straight win improved their season record to 7-3, while Carlton (4-6) now face an uphill battle to make the top eight.