'Out of hand': AFL fans erupt over 'mind-boggling' drama

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
The Swans copped their first loss of the AFL season after enduring a lopsided free kick count in the Western Bulldogs' favour on Thursday night. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
The Swans copped their first loss of the AFL season after enduring a lopsided free kick count in the Western Bulldogs' favour on Thursday night. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The umpires in the Western Bulldogs' narrow win over the Sydney Swans on Thursday night have come under fire for a lopsided free kick count in favour of the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs escaped with their first win of the season despite some badly wayward goalkicking, dominating most other aspects of the game 9.17 (71) to 9.6 (60).

They were aided by a free kick count that had Swans fans pulling their hair out by the end of the match, the umpires handing 31 free kicks to 14.

Swans coach John Longmire was unwilling to pin the loss on the umpires, admitting that the Bulldogs' poor goalkicking had kept Sydney in the game, but could only offer 'what can I say?' when asked to comment in the performance of the umpires.

While Longmire was reluctant to comment too much on the umpiring, the whistleblowing gained significant attention on social media.

Several former AFL stars commented on the lopsided count, including Collingwood champion Dane Swan and injured Swans ruckman Sam Naismith.

The match bore some semblance to the 2016 grand final between the two teams, which the Bulldogs won amid some complaints about the umpiring.

Even veteran AFL commentator Gerard Whateley said it was 'getting out of hand'.

“An unbiased opinion (mine) would say that dogs getting the rub of the green with the umps," Swan wrote on Twitter.

Naismith reference the 2016 decider in a tweet of his own.

"If I tweet about the umpires is it 50m?" he posted.

Many others on Twitter piled un the umpires.

Regardless of the free kick count, Longmire admitted his side was "off the pace" against a hungry Bulldogs outfit and would have been lucky to steal the win.

The Swans got within five points with a minute remaining when Errol Gulden was gifted a goal from a 50-metre penalty.

"I'm not going to sit here and say that if we had have pinched it, it would've been deserved," Longmire said.

"It would've been great to pinch it and we got within a kick.

"To be able to get in that space even though we weren't playing well ... but it was a bit of the Doggies missing some shots."

Bulldogs get first win of AFL season despite wayward kicking vs Swans

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has cause for optimism that his patience with Tim English is soon to be rewarded with the emerging ruckman's coming of age.

The 24-year-old produced what Beveridge described as a "dominant" display in the Bulldogs' narrow 11-point win over Sydney on Thursday night.

Without him, they may well have been wallowing in a 0-3 hole to start to the season.

English outpointed Swans duo Tom Hickey and Joel Amartey in amassing 24 disposals, eight marks, eight clearances, 28 hit-outs and 12 score involvements in the best performance of his 72-game career.

He also produced one of the highlights of the night with a big leap on the back of Sydney superstar Lance Franklin, hauling in a spectacular mark.

But English faces scrutiny from the match review officer over a heavy bump that felled Sydney's Nick Blakey late in the match at Marvel Stadium.

The Bulldogs broke through for their first win of the AFL season despite poor kicking in front of goal against the Swans. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
The Bulldogs broke through for their first win of the AFL season despite poor kicking in front of goal against the Swans. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

"He's had some games where he's had some tremendous influence but I thought he was dominant tonight," Beveridge said.

"That's important for him and us.

"When you think about the two main score origins - turnover and stoppage - he's been playing the turnover game pretty well for us.

"He's searching for his presence around the source and he gave us stability.

"He won the hit-out count, which is terrific for him and for us, and he had a big influence on the game."

English is one of many Bulldogs out of contract this year and has made it clear to the club that he sees himself as a long-term ruckman, rather than a key forward.

He spent time in attack late last season when spearhead Josh Bruce went down injured but has been used predominantly in his preferred position in 2022.

Beveridge said English's ruck preference is not dictating the Dogs' selection policy around their tall stocks as they attempt to keep their talented squad together.

With AAP

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