Fremantle fume as fans divided over 'razor-thin' umpires ruling

The AFL world is still debating the crazy ending to the Fremantle and North Melbourne epic.

The Sherrin ball goes over the boundary line and North Melbourne players celebrate a win over Fremantle.
Fremantle called for a free kick in the final seconds of their loss to the Kangaroos after a controversial kick from Daniel Howe from the last line of defence at the siren. (Images: Channel 7)

The AFL world has been left divided after the final moments in Fremantle's heartbreaking one-point loss to North Melbourne in Perth after a controversial umpires decision. The Kangaroos looked home after Luke Davies-Uniacke kicked a 50m goal on the run to give the visitors a 20-point lead with under seven minutes remaining in Saturday's match.

However, Fremantle weren't done and two quick goals to Jaeger O'Meara, before a major to defender Brennan Cox following a goal-line scrap, reduced the margin to one point with less than two minutes to go. The 40,487 in attendance willed Fremantle on as the ball was stuck in the forward 50m as they pushed for a goal.

'CAN'T DO BOTH': Tigers lift lid on Daisy Pearce ban from Richmond rooms

SAD: AFL world pays tribute to Ron Joseph after North Melbourne icon's death

And in the final few seconds, Daniel Howe collected the ball in front of the goal mouth and kicked the ball from the last line of defence to the pocket. This is where the controversy started.

By the letter of the law, this could be considered insufficient intent. However, the field umpire appeared to claim: “Yours (area of the ground to control). Pay it."

This meant play on and the ball crossed the boundary line in. The siren sounded either right before or after the ball was out of play.

A Fremantle player was heard yelling, “Deliberate!” Kangaroos players celebrated, but for a moment everyone stopped. Umpires got together and claimed: "The siren went before it went out of bounds. That‘s the call we’ve made.”

The decision certainly divided the AFL world. Fox Footy's David Zita labelled the decision 'razor-thin'. Western Bulldogs great Brad Johnson thought the umpire got the call right with the siren.

“North Melbourne’s players arms go in the air, and the ball is out of play. So they hear the siren and celebrate,” he said on Fox Sports.

“If you pause, look where the Sherrin is. I think it’s out of play when that siren goes, going off when the North Melbourne players raise their arms in celebration.” Others were divided on the 'razor-thin' umpires ruling.

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir backs umpires call

While many fans were left filthy, Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir didn't want to dispute the call from the umpires.

"I'm not 100 per cent sure on the rules. You know what, I trust the umpire got it right," Longmuir said. "My gut feel is we would have stolen it if we had got a shot on goal and we had have drawn or won it.

"I admire the boys' fight at the end and never-give-up attitude, but we've got a bit of work to do. On that last incident, I trust the umpire got it right."

Brennan Cox and Andrew Brayshaw talk to the umpires.
Brennan Cox and Andrew Brayshaw were left questioning the umpires call after the siren against North Melbourne Kangaroos at Optus Stadium. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Kangaroos coach Alastair Clarkson was of a similar view and said he thinks the umpires got it right. "My understanding is that the siren went when the ball was still in play," Clarkson said.

"That's just my naked observation of it. And so, if the ball is in play and the siren goes, then ... the game is dead. The lap of the gods was with us just for that last bit and I think our footy club deserves it just this once."

The 11.7 (73) to 10.12 (72) win gave North Melbourne a brilliant 2-0 start under new coach Clarkson to start the season.

with AAP

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.