Brisbane’s Dayne Zorko has reflected on the controversial umpiring call to pay advantage to Zac Bailey in the dying stages of Saturday’s four-point Grand Final loss to Collingwood.
With Brisbane in the midst of their last forward forway, Lachie Neale was awarded a free kick for being tripped. But as the ball found Bailey, he kicked over his head to a contest which Collingwood ultimately repelled and they’d never concede another inside 50 for the game.
While the umpire paid Bailey advantage once he kicked, Zorko believes the call was tough on his teammate as he felt the umpires had barely paid an advantage for the entire game.
“Yeah, I was aware of it,” Zorko said on SEN Pat and Heals.
“I was in good line with the umpire, and I mean, it was extraordinary given that they hadn't paid an advantage all day.
“So, I thought it was a bit tough.”
While some suggested Bailey should have simply held up play so Neale could take the ball and launch inside 50, Zorko doesn’t believe that was an option he had.
Given how loud the 100,024-strong crowd was in the dying stages, Zorko says there’s no way Bailey could have known a free was paid and that he himself only knew the whistle was blown as he had a line of sight at the umpire at the time.
“I heard that there's been a few headlines around Zac knowing that it was (a free kick) and that he shouldn't have taken the advantage,” Zorko said.
“He had no idea. I mean, he was getting wrangled around the neck at the time that his foot hit the ball.
“It was so loud and deafening. It was only the fact that I'd seen the umpire visually pay the free kick and blow the whistle that I knew it was a free kick.
“But it was so loud, there's no way he could have heard it as a player.
“It was just phenomenal, but it is what it is.”
SEN’s Gerard Whateley, who was commentating the game for AFL Nation, believes the advantage call was flat-out wrong as Bailey never had any intent to claim an advantage, even if he heard the whistle.
“The advantage call in the final 90 seconds was flat out wrong and don't let anybody tell you otherwise,” Whateley said on SEN Mornings.
“There has to be an intent to claim advantage and Bailey had no such intent.
“He scrambled a kick with no knowledge the whistle had been blown.
“The umpire's duty was to recall the ball and let Neale take the free kick, which he had earned.
“We'll never know what might have happened.”
The advantage call was paid with less than 80 seconds remaining and the Lions would never control the football again after Tom Mitchell was paid a high free-kick with less than a minute left.
Listen to Zorko’s full chat with Ian Healy and Pat Welsh here.