Swans surge to 88-year first as AFL world blasts 'horrendous' call that dudded Bulldogs

The Western Bulldogs had their comeback halted in controversial fashion.

AFL fans and commentators have panned a controversial late call in the Sydney Swans' win over the Western Bulldogs that buried any hope of the Dogs pulling off a miraculous comeback. The ladder-leading Swans fought off a late challenge from the injury-ravaged Bulldogs to register a 14-point win on Thursday night.

But Bulldogs fans were left fuming over a contentious call in the last few minutes that denied them the chance to continue mounting their comeback attempt. The Swans led by 30 points early in the last term, but the Bulldogs rallied and only trailed by eight with less than five minutes left.

The Western Bulldogs and Sydney Swans in action in the AFL.
The Western Bulldogs were cruelled by a late 50m penalty in their AFL loss to the Sydney Swans. Image: Channel 7/Getty

But a controversial 50m penalty allowed Hayden McLean to put the Swans back up by 14 and saw them hold on by the skin of their teeth. Latham Vandermeer was deemed to have knocked the ball out of McLean's hands after he took a mark, but replays showed it was pretty simultaneous and didn't warrant a 50m penalty.

Hayden McLean and Latham Vandermeer.
Hayden McLean was awarded a 50m penalty over Latham Vandermeer's actions.

“That is tough. That is not it," Dale Thomas said in commentary for Channel 7. "Accidental contact coming across, making a play at the ball, no second motion."

Brian Taylor suggested it “was very much line-ball”, while Thomas added: “Worst-case scenario pay the mark, let him go back from 50. I don’t think the 50m penalty was there."

Matthew Richardson wrote on social media: "Soft as these 50s. Is this how you really want the game to look?” While Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge refused to be drawn in on the furore. "What can you say? Whether it's there or not, I don't really know. Ultimately, the decision was made and we live with it," Beveridge said.

Fans and commentators were far from impressed, especially after the Bulldogs copped another 50m penalty not long after. The initial decision was labelled 'horrendous' and 'disgraceful' by some on social media.

The Swans will go into their mid-season bye a game-and-a-half clear at the top of the AFL ladder with a 10-1 record. It marks the first time since 1936 that the Swans have started a season with 10 wins from their first 11 games.

Chad Warner kicked four goals and took a mark of the year candidate in the third term as the Swans broke clear after half-time. "At half-time, they were really good, the Doggies. Their (midfielders) were all over us," said Swans coach John Longmire.

"Chad played a little bit differently in that third quarter, he played a bit more forward. He was able to hit the scoreboard and was pretty dynamic. That is a good sign, that he's able to switch on like that and get himself going in that second half. It was a credit to him. We need to find a way when we're not at our best, individually and as a team. Chad's second half was fantastic."

Western Bulldogs players, pictured here after their AFL loss to the Sydney Swans.
Western Bulldogs players look on after their AFL loss to the Sydney Swans.


Beveridge praised his team's resiliency after they lost Aaron Naughton to a serious knee injury and Ed Richards to concussion. "All-in-all, it showed great integrity in what the boys did," he said.

"It's just a shame we had a bit of bad luck. You never lose and feel like a winner, but in my books our players are winners tonight - they were outstanding. We just made some monumental blues and missed some monumental chances, to give ourselves any real chance to win."

with AAP