Hawthorn great Luke Hodge says Adelaide Crows denied free kick against Essendon in dying minutes

The Nightly
3 Min Read
Sam Draper escaped giving away a free kick in the last second of the game.

Hawthorn great Luke Hodge claimed the umpires shied away from awarding Adelaide a deserved free kick because it was in the dying seconds of the match, as the Crows were again thwarted in a controversial thriller.

Essendon prevailed by three points, 10.18 (78) to 11.9 (75) at Adelaide Oval on Friday night, after Bombers ruckman Sam Draper avoided being pinged for holding the ball after flopping his body on top of the Sherrin inside the home team’s 50m arc as the clock ticked down.

It was another contentious finish for the Crows at home after a goal umpiring blunder cost them a win over Sydney, along with a place in the finals, last year.

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A free kick would have allowed Adelaide forward Taylor Walker to shoot for goal to win the match after the siren.

“That’s a free kick any way you look at that. The fact that he laid on it,” Hodge said on Channel 7.

“The reason why the AFL brought in four umpires was so they could see any angle and pay free kicks. If that was the five-minute mark of the first quarter or the second quarter, all four of those umpires would have jumped in to pay that.

“They didn’t pay it because of the time. They didn’t pay it because they didn’t want to make an error. They made the wrong decision. That should have been a free kick, and Tex Walker should have been having a shot on goal. Without a shadow of a doubt.”

Collingwood legend Nathan Buckley labelled Draper’s action a “brain fade”, while Brisbane great Jonathan Brown said: “It’s not a brain fade, it’s a winning moment”.

“He’s made sure it’s there and lied on it,” Buckley said.

“Technically that is in any part of the field in any part of the game holding the ball.”

Essendon coach Brad Scott said decisions went both ways.

“There were a lot of decisions holding the ball, for and against, throughout the night,” a grinning Scott said.

“We’ll obviously focus on the one in the last couple of seconds, but I can show you a couple of others, too, if you want.”

A late Nic Martin long bomb, launched from 55m on the run with about eight minutes left, put the visitors six points up. The Bombers then held on bravely despite a series of Adelaide attacks.

Essendon climb into the top eight with a fourth win of the season, but the Crows remain in the mire at 1-5. Essendon skipper Zach Merrett was a standout with 28 disposals, seven clearances and a crucial last-term goal, while Jade Gresham (26 touches) was also busy.

Martin capped his influential 27-disposal display with the late game-breaker, while Harrison Jones and Kyle Langford had two goals each.

Adelaide’s Jake Soligo continued his break-out form in the midfield with 31 disposals, 10 clearances and a goal.

His captain, Jordan Dawson, was superb with 31 touches, two goals and nine tackles, while backman Mitch Hinge had 25 possessions.

Crows livewire Izak Rankine produced a snap from heavy traffic, which bounced through for a seven-point break with 12 minutes left before Martin answered his team’s predicament.

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