AFL fans were calling for Tom Mitchell to be hit with a fine after appearing to stage for a free kick in an incident with Christian Petracca on Thursday night. Mitchell and Petracca went head-to-head in a battle of respective superstars as Collingwood beat Melbourne to advance to the preliminary final.
The result was overshadowed by a number of unsavoury incidents, with Brayden Maynard knocking out Angus Brayshaw and Jacob van Rooyen collecting Dan McStay with his elbow. While not as serious, Mitchell's actions also drew the ire of fans.
Mitchell and Petracca tangled early in the first quarter when the Collingwood player said something that riled his opponent. Petracca shoved Mitchell in the chest, resulting in the Collingwood player flopping to the ground and over-exaggerating the contact.
Unfortunately for Mitchell, the umpires didn't take the bait and Petracca got off without punishment. Petracca then gave his opponent an almighty spray as he attempted to pick himself up off the ground.
“He didn’t really do much to Mitchell at all,” Brian Taylor said in commentary for Channel 7. “Mitchell voluntarily sat on the ground, I would describe it as. Good umpiring. Nothing more than a whistle.”
— outbreezy (@outbreezyWC) September 7, 2023
Fans called for the match review officer to take a dim view of Mitchell's dive. “If Tom Mitchell doesn’t get fined for this flop then the AFL is not serious,” one fan wrote on social media.
Another commented: “This is why two clubs couldn’t wait to get rid of Tom Mitchell, Collingwood is the perfect home for him." Others described the Collingwood player's actions as "embarrassing" and "pathetic".
— Paddy Meade (@PaddyMeade) September 7, 2023
For a Brownlow Medallist he should be ashamed of himself.
— KEVIN THE COMMONER (@kfm52) September 7, 2023
— Garth McLaughlin (@garth_imhere) September 7, 2023
Not a good look for the game
— chara (@kaichara10) September 7, 2023
AFL coaches divided over Maynard-Brayshaw incident
Maynard was sent straight to the AFL Tribunal and is facing a ban of at least three games after clattering into Brayshaw while attempting a smother. Maynard jumped in the air to try and deflect Brayshaw's kick, before tucking his shoulder and making direct contact with Brayshaw's head.
The Melbourne player was left unconscious on the MCG turf and was taken off the field on a stretcher. He won't be available for next week's semi-final against the winner of Carlton and Sydney due to concussion protocols.
"I don't want to say too much, but it's a footy act," Maynard told the Seven Network after the game. "I came forward, I jumped to smother the ball and yeah, unfortunately I just got him on the way down. So I don't know. We'll have to wait and see what happens."
In regards to whether Maynard should be suspended, Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said: "I guess that'll be sorted out during the week, but we've got a pretty shattered player (Brayshaw) in there.
"Look, you can only go by the facts: he jumped off the ground and knocked a guy out. So I guess time will tell."
Collingwood coach Craig McRae said: "I've caught it on a phone. One view of it, one angle, it looks like he's in the air," he said. The act itself, it didn't look like it had much malice but I'll leave it up to others to decide if that's worthy of a suspension or not. I don't know."
Petracca KISS 101.1 on Friday morning: "I was right there, and it was pretty upsetting to see him on the ground like that. Anyone, even a Collingwood player, you don't want to play this game to see anyone getting concussed."
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