Commentators and footy fans have taken aim at AFL officials over the contentious below-the-knees rule that reared its head in Melbourne’s semi-final win over Hawthorn.
The 16.8 (104) to 10.11 (71) win on Friday night at the MCG puts the Demons into their first preliminary final since 2000.
However, plenty of focus during the win centred on the controversial ruling that once again sparked heated debate.
Hawthorn threatened to mount am epic final quarter comeback when they booted the first three goals off the back of two below-the-knees free kicks.
Angus Brayshaw was penalised the first time after diving into Shaun Burgoyne’s legs during a contest for the footy.
More head scratching followed moments later when Jordan Lewis was hit in almost identical fashion – prompting outrage from the Seven commentary team.
“They’ve gone berzerk on this rule, they’ve gone berzerk,” Seven commentator Brian Taylor said during the broadcast.
“How is that a free kick?” Wayne Carey chimed in with.
“They’ve had two absolute shockers … if this is game is decided by those two below-the-knee contact.”
Fans and former players were also left in bewilderment by the controversial rulings.
This is why we don’t trust AFL and their rule making. Bring in a rule for one thing and turn it into something completely different. Contact below the knees an absolute disgrace.
— Nathan Burke (@Nathan3Burke) September 14, 2018
Sliding rule a bloody disgrace. You are allowed to win the ball.
— Warren Tredrea (@warrentredrea) September 14, 2018
Dear Steve Hocking, before implementing new rules – can we please fix up the ones that we currently have. The contact below the knees rule is totally against the spirit of this great game. Please, please review this rule.
— David Coutts (@dccoutta) September 14, 2018
The must be a reason why the afl are policing it so hard, was their a massive amount of injuries last year due to below the knee dives at the footy ? @MickMCG34
— Ben Peart (@benpeart6) September 14, 2018
Bigger embarrassment was those 2 contact below the knees paid to hawthorn, absolute joke pf a rule
— Glen Joyce (@glenjoycore) September 14, 2018
The Demons will play West Coast next Saturday afternoon at Optus Stadium, a month after they had a crucial round-22 win over the Eagles at the same venue.
“But it’s a new game, so we know what we’re up against – we’re up against a really strong footy club,” said Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin.
“They have some experienced players who are back in the team, who didn’t play that day – as we have.”
There are growing parallels to two years ago, when the Western Bulldogs had a storming run from seventh place to win their drought-breaking premiership.
Melbourne likewise have started from an elimination final and have no margin for error if they are to break their 54-year premiership drought.
Next weekend’s two preliminary finals will mark a changing of the guard – for the first time since 2002, they will not feature at least one of Hawthorn, Geelong or Sydney.
Goodwin said they are relishing the support of their long-suffering fans and called on as many of them as possible to travel to Perth next weekend.