AFL admits mistake in Crows-Dees free kick

·2-min read

The AFL has conceded Melbourne should have been awarded a free kick for Nick Murray's handpass across the boundary line in the frantic final minute of their shock one-point defeat to Adelaide.

The Crows produced the upset of the season at Adelaide Oval on Saturday, ending the Demons' undefeated start to 2021.

Fifth-gamer Murray was under pressure when he handballed towards the boundary line, with the visitors unsuccessfully appealing for a free kick.

It would have given them a shot at goal from close-range on the boundary line with little time remaining.

But a throw-in was called and the Crows hung on in front of a parochial home crowd.

The decision was reviewed on Monday by the AFL umpiring department, which conceded Murray should have been penalised.

"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," the AFL said in a statement on Monday night.

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

The league's admission comes amid some conjecture over whether Melbourne's Charlie Spargo got a hand to the ball in an attempt to smother Murray's handpass.

It is the third time the AFL has conceded a crucial umpiring error that has cost a team a possible match-winning shot at goal this season.

In round two, Zac Bailey should have been rewarded with a holding-the-ball free kick at the end of Brisbane's defeat to Geelong.

In round seven, Jeremy Cameron should have been awarded a mark deep in attack during the final seconds of the Cats' loss to Sydney.

The team visiting from interstate has been on the wrong end of the decision on all three occasions.

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks felt his team was lucky it was playing at home on Saturday.

"I had a chat to Nick Murray after the game and asked what was going through his mind, this is a guy who has played less than 10 games, but his actual intention was to handball to grass," Nicks told 3AW radio.

"There are so many decisions across the game that we could look at, that could go one way or the other ... that is footy.

"But I do understand why some people would be reasonably upset at this point in time.

"I think the fact we are playing a home game, thank goodness it wasn't the week prior at West Coast, that's why we play home and away, that's why we value our supporters and members that get there and there is 50,000 cheering for us and not screaming for a deliberate out of bounds."