Melbourne should have had out of bounds free kick: AFL

The AFL has said that Adelaide’s Nick Murray did not show sufficient intent to keep the ball in play when he handballed it out of bounds in the final 35 seconds of the Crows’ one-point win over Melbourne on Saturday.

But the league declined to make a ruling on whether Ben Keays should have been penalised for holding the ball when tackled moments before the contentious boundary throw-in decision.

The AFL on Monday said that upon video review, Murray did not show sufficient intent to keep the ball in when he handballed towards the Demons’ goal under pressure from opposition players. Had the free kick been paid, Melbourne would have had a shot at goal but the umpire did not deem it a free.

Nick Murray of the Crows handballs in the final seconds of Adelaide’s round 10 match against the Demons. Credit:Getty Images

An AFL statement read: “It was the view of the umpire in real time that, from his angle, there was a player in the vicinity and, as such, decided to call a throw-in.

“Upon video review it was deemed the player did not display sufficient intent to keep the ball in play.”

Footage aired on Fox Footy showed the Murray handball deflected off Charlie Spargo’s hand before rolling out of bounds.

Meanwhile, when contacted, the AFL refused to enter into a discussion about the Keays decision, which was also subject of debate. Keays hung onto the ball for a long time when tackled and finally got a questionable handball off to Rory Sloane, whose kick was marked by Taylor Walker for what became the winning goal.

The AFL’s review of the Adelaide v Melbourne game received a positive appraisal, with the league’s view that the game was overall well umpired.

The Keays non-free came seconds after Max Gawn was pinged for holding the ball.

The league was pleased that Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin chose not to make an issue of the umpiring and these contentious incidents in the dying minutes of his team’s first loss for 2021.

It comes after Geelong’s Jeremy Cameron was wrongly denied a chance to kick a match-winning goal against Sydney in round seven because of an incorrect umpiring call, and after Brisbane’s Zac Bailey was wrongly denied a similar opportunity in a round two loss to the Cats.

The AFL also admitted both of those umpiring decisions were incorrect.

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