‘Nowhere near’: AFL controversy strikes

The footy season is well and truly here after the first controversy of a new year struck and reminded the AFL why they use technology for close calls.

The AFL season hasn’t even started yet but already there has been a controversy with the score review system, but only because it wasn’t there.

Technology has been the centre of controversy in sport across the world with close call dissected to within an inch of their lives.

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But with the AFL season still two weeks away and the results of the pre-season hardly mattering at the end of the day apart from building confidence, the need to make the calls 100 per cent correctly is less important than when the season begins.

So of course, in Geelong’s 12.7 (79) to 9.18 (72) win over Essendon, that was only decided by Francis Evans’ goal in the final minute, there had to be a close call.

It was late in the first tern when the Cats’ Shaun Higgins attempted to curl a kick in from the boundary line, when the Bombers’ Aaron Francis took the mark.

Or did he?

As the rest of the players were set to kick it out from the goalsquare after the mark, the umpire came in and the goal umpire ruled a goal.

On Fox Footy, Jordan Lewis in commentary said “I think the umpire’s called it a score”.

After his colleagues took a second to soak in what had happened, commentator Dwayne Russell added: “No score review during the AAMI Community series, it’s the honour system, the players will have a chat about it,” he said.

Six-time All-Australian Brad Johnson was happy with it to be given.

“I don’t actually mind it, it was conviction, no this was a goal,” he said.

“He calls it immediately the goal umpire.”

Regardless, it was a brave call as everyone on the field appeared happy to call it play on.

Russell finished it off, adding: “It’s nice to have a bit of controversy early, something to argue about, home town decisions.”

But on 3AW, Cats great Jimmy Bartel was incredulous his old side was awarded a goal.

“That was nowhere near a goal,” he said. “Whoever called that needs a spell already.”

Social media was quick to react to the moment but any fans worried this is the start of a bigger issue, the score review will be back for round one.

Just like every game this weekend, there is only so much you can learn from the pre-season trial but both teams will be helped out by the tough hit out.

For Essendon, it’s an encouraging result with 27 scores. With some more accurate kicking, they would have won the match handily.

While for Cats fans, they got a first look at the new forward line with Jeremy Cameron, Gary Rohan and Tom Hawkins combining for the 2020 runners up.

“It was good to get out there, basically my first match play,” Cameron said post-game. “I’ve been held back a bit since I hurt my hammy and it was good to get out there with the boys and have a good hit out. And it was a really good game in the end, wasn’t it?”

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