AFL fans were left seething on Friday night when St Kilda were seemingly robbed of a goal against Richmond.
Richmond booked a spot in the penultimate week of the AFL season for the fourth consecutive year with a 31-point semi-final win at Metricon Stadium.
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The Tigers piled on five goals in a first-quarter blitz to seize control and brushed off a second-half challenge in the 12.8 (80) to 6.13 (49) victory.
But despite the lop-sided scoreline, the match wasn’t without controversy.
With St Kilda desperately trying to mount a comeback just before half-time, Jack Sinclair thought he’d converted a goal despite a late attempt to touch the footy from Nick Vlastuin.
On-field umpires called for a score review to see if Vlastiun had touched it, with replays appearing to show daylight between fist and ball.
However the score review umpire couldn’t find conclusive evidence to overturn the on-field umpire’s decision of a behind.
That decision left fans and commentators in disbelief.
“When we saw the split-screen so they run concurrently ... when you see distance between the fist from one angle and you see it from the other side, you know that that‘s the only point of contact that could happen. That kind of looks conclusive to me,” Hawthorn great Dermott Brereton said on Fox Footy.
Herald Sun journalist Jon Ralph added: “That‘s what the AFL ARC System is there for - for multiple angles, which you can cross-reference and correlate.
“I think we get silly if we start doing ’snicko’ for these kind of incidents, but again, it is the best person in the ARC and they’ve been working through it all year. I think they probably should have made that decision, but I’m sure the AFL will say it was not conclusive.”
Brisbane Lions champion Alastair Lynch believed Vlastuin gave himself away.
“Probably the biggest giveaway was Nick Vlastuin. He knew. It‘s like when you snick one to second slip and you still wait for the umpire’s decision. He knew he was gone,” he said.
ABC broadcaster Corbin Middlemas tweeted: “That’s about as conclusive as we’re going to get with a 2D image.”
Sports reporter Natalie Yoannidis wrote: “Disgraceful decision! Why do we even have a review system if they can’t see an obvious goal?!”
3AW’s Shane McInnes tweeted: “INCONCLUSIVE??!?! There was daylight behind fist and ball. So much for, ‘What if it’s a final?’”
Sports journo Jack Hudson wrote: “The ARC is embarrassing.”
While former St Kilda player Jason Gram posted: “Get me in the Arc now. How can u miss that?”
Jeez the Saints are being hard done by tonight#aflTigersSaints— Tim Michell (@tim_michell) October 9, 2020
Inconclusive evidence?— Matthew Lodge (@MatthewSLodge) October 9, 2020
The ball was in Carrara. Tigger’s fist was in Coolangatta. #AFLFinals
I don’t care about the result of this @AFL final but how could the video guy not see that the ball wasn’t touched? This drives me mad how these guys get it wrong with so much footage. You would not want lose final this way. @stkildafc robbed of a goal.— Brendan Joyce (@Brendan_Joyce12) October 9, 2020
That’s a shocker— Daniel Cherny 📰 (@DanielCherny) October 9, 2020
Um wot. Vlastin didn’t even claim that. #AFLTigersSaints— Jacqueline Felgate (@Jacquifelgate) October 9, 2020
Could drive a truck between Vlastuin’s fist and the footy. #AFLTigersSaints— Luke D'Anello (@LukeDAnello) October 9, 2020
Richmond set up clash with Port Adelaide
The Tigers’ win sets up a blockbuster preliminary final showdown with minor premiers Port Adelaide as Richmond continue their quest for back-to-back flags.
“Overall, our performance was pretty solid (but) we can certainly play a little bit better,” Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said.
“I thought offensively we were a bit scratchy tonight, gave the ball back a little bit too much in certain situations.
“We'll look at that and try and improve that next week against a very good Port Adelaide.”
Seasoned finals performers Dustin Martin, Bachar Houli and Shane Edwards starred against the Saints and Shai Bolton kicked three goals in a lively display.
Key forward Tom Lynch was influential on his comeback from a hamstring injury with 2.5 but will come under scrutiny for dropping a knee on Dougal Howard's neck and shoulder area as they tangled during the third quarter.
“Great teams always play on the edge,” Hardwick said.
“The fact of the matter is, it's a big boys game, things happen and players will always play hard and tough.”
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