AFL world erupts over Brodie Kemp incident as Brian Taylor sparks 'staging' backlash

The Carlton star found himself in the crosshairs of AFL viewers after the incident.

Carlton's Brodie Kemp has found himself at the centre of an AFL 'staging' storm after being accused by veteran Channel Seven commentator Brian Taylor of deliberately trying, and succeeding, to win a free kick against Melbourne. The incident in question came at a crucial moment in a dramatic final quarter that saw a fast-finishing Demons fall just short of completing a miracle comeback as Carlton hung on for a 12.5 (77) to 11.10 (76) victory.

The Demons were down by as much as 38 points during the third term and 28 in the final quarter before a late blitz saw them almost snatch an unlikely victory. Melbourne kicked the last four goals of the game, including three in time-on during a tense final term. Max Gawn's long set shot cut the margin to one point with 40 seconds left but the Blues did just enough to hold on for a thrilling win.

Pictured right to left, AFL commentator Brian Taylor and Carlton's Brodie Kemp.
AFL commentator Brian Taylor suggested that Carlton's Brodie Kemp deliberately tried to win a free kick against Melbourne. Pic: Seven/Getty

Things may have been different had the Blues not been awarded a contentious free kick when Kemp was caught in possession by Jacob van Rooyen deep inside his own territory. Van Rooyen caught Kemp off guard and wrapped his arms around the Blues star in a legal tackle, before taking him to ground on the MCG turf.

Kemp's head hit the turf with some degree of force, prompting the umpire to pay the Blues star a free kick. Commentators and fans were scratching their heads over the crucial call, with many insisting the free kick should have gone the other way and presented the Demons with a terrific chance to reduce the margin.

Channel Seven commentator Alister Nicholson called it at the time: “Kemp’s in huge trouble. Monster tackle. “A dangerous tackle... oh I do not know about that.” His co-commentator Taylor then suggested Kemp knew exactly what he was doing to win the free kick. “I reckon Kemp, that’s a classic example of a player deliberately putting his head into the ground," Taylor said.

Taylor's 'staging' insinuation that Kemp had deliberately played for a free kick sparked debate around the AFL world. West Coast premiership great Will Schofield wrote on X: “That dangerous tackle call is absolutely disgraceful!!! How are we encouraging blokes to throw their heads to the ground?”

The Herald Sun’s Jon Ralph said the incident highlighted how difficult it is for umpires to know when players are looking for free kicks, as opposed to just being victims of dangerous tackles. “New umpires boss Stephen McBurney spoke today on the challenges of umpiring in this era when players try so hard to win free kicks," Ralph wrote on X.

"That Van Rooyen tackle was perfect but how does the umpire know when Kemp pitched forward so he could win the free kick? The AFL hasn’t fined players for staging this year. Hard to fine Kemp when other players haven’t been cited for that type of incident. It has to be ‘excessive exaggeration’ and affect an umpire’s decision making.” The incident certainly divided fans, with many saying the fact Kemp's head made forceful contact with the turf meant van Rooyen failed in the duty of care to his opponent and deserved to be penalised.

Carlton's one-point win was the latest in a thrilling chapter between the two sides, with six of the last eight meetings decided by single-figure margins. The result moved the Blues into fifth on the ladder with a 6-3 record - level on points with the Dees, who sit fourth on percentage.


"Melbourne's comeback won't take away from the positives of the game for us," Carlton coach Michael Voss said after the game. "We've been fighting for a good month and we've been in some good form, we've played against some really good sides, and felt like we haven't been able to get the wins on the board. So maybe that's what it felt like a bit in the last quarter and we needed to get the four points. We'll walk away with that against a very, very good side."

Seen here, Carlton players celebrate their thrilling win over Melbourne in the AFL.
Carlton players celebrate their thrilling win over Melbourne in the AFL. Pic: Getty

Carlton's win came at a cost as unlucky midfielder Adam Cerra was substituted out of the game with another hamstring injury. Sam Walsh (35 disposals, six clearances) and Patrick Cripps (34, five) fired in the engine room, while Jacob Weitering was a rock in defence. Matthew Owies finished with three majors and Charlie Curnow bagged two, with Walsh and Cripps also among their nine goal-kickers.

Christian Petracca was immense in a losing Melbourne side, booting five goals to almost spearhead a miracle comeback after the Demons were held scoreless in an opening quarter for the first time since 2008. The 28-year-old superstar responded with a career-best five majors and two goal assists as the Demons fought back, ultimately to no avail.

with AAP