Five-time premiership player Kevin Bartlett has declared the free kick paid to Luke Shuey, which allowed the Eagle to kick the game-winning goal after the siren, was the correct call.
It appeared Shuey had lifted his arm up to push Port Adelaide’s Jared Polec’s arm up to his neck area, which caused umpire Chris Donlon to pay the free kick. However, Bartlett believes this wasn’t the case, and the decision was justified.
“I couldn’t understand people on the weekend having a crack at the umpire Chris Donlon,” he told SEN’s Hungry For Sport.
“That was a free kick every day of the week. He didn’t drop his knees, he didn’t drop his head, he didn’t initiate with his head, he went straight forward. When you get tackled, you’re going to make some body movement. There wasn’t a time-lapse between the tackle and then all of a sudden, he lifted his arm up. It all happened in a nanosecond.
“It was a bad tackle, it caught him high, and it was around the neck. Why the other two umpires took so long to pay the free kick I’ll never know.”
The goal Shuey kicked from the call gave West Coast a dramatic victory in extra time, setting up a Semi-Final meeting with GWS on Saturday.
Melbourne champion Garry Lyon disagreed with Bartlett’s argument, citing the messaging communicated from the AFL umpires at the start of the year.
“The issue was raised in the preseason when the umpires came to spoke to us, they said when the tackle is applied and the bloke with the ball is responsible for the high contact via a shrug, drop of the knees or a duck, play on should be called,” he told SEN Breakfast.
“The umpires picked and choose when to pay that during the year. At times, they applied the rule correctly. You can’t come out and say those things and then not apply the rule.”
Former Herald Sun Chief Football Writer Mike Sheahan said “there is no question any umpire in the game, in any state of the country, would have paid a free kick for high contact.” Four-time Essendon best and fairest winner Tim Watson also thought it was a free kick.