Footy fans have voiced their frustration at the AFL’s inconsistent umpiring, which proved a major talking point during Saturday evening’s match between Richmond and Essendon at Perth Stadium.
The match officials repeatedly neglected to call holding the ball for seemingly regulation occurrences, which left the commentary team scratching their heads.
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During the third quarter of the Dreamtime clash, Essendon defender Jordan Ridley tackled Richmond’s Jake Aarts near the boundary line inside 50, with the Tigers forward spilling the Sherrin.
A chorus of boos echoed around the venue when the officials chose not to award a free kick for holding the ball.
The correct decision seemed evident to Richmond teammate Dustin Martin, who had stopped in his tracks anticipating a stoppage in play.
“That had to be holding the ball then,” Western Bulldogs great Luke Darcy said on Channel 7’s commentary.
“They’re just not paying them.”
This wasn't paid holding the ball. 🧐#AFLDonsTigerspic.twitter.com/7ksSFP8Duu
Unfortunately, this was one of several contentious umpiring decisions that left footy fans fuming on Saturday evening.
North Melbourne legend David King tweeted: “Umpires please just pay the free kick … Now this is getting ridiculous — just pay what we all expect to be a free kick.”
Western Bulldogs AFLW star Hannah Scott tweeted: “What is holding the ball … honestly I just have no idea anymore. Blatant dropping the ball and illegal disposal … just a wave of the arms play on.”
Veteran footy reporter Ron Reed posted: “Have I missed the memo about the holding the ball rule being rescinded?”
ABC journalist Garrett Mundy tweeted: “Bombers getting shafted by the hometown umpires.”
AFL reporter Nat Edwards posted: “It’s round 12 and I’m still confused as to what is holding the ball in 2021.”
Hate banging on about umpiring, but the latitude on holding the ball at the moment is ridiculous. Been going on for weeks now. #AFLDonsTigers
Any chance of paying holding the ball? #AFLDonsTigers
At this stage we don’t care what the actual rule is, just call it exactly the same 9 games a round! #holdingtheball
The Tigers looked poised for a comfortable victory after three quarters, but Essendon kicked four consecutive goals early in the final term to take the lead and set up a thrilling finish.
But the defending premiers showed their class in the closing 10 minutes, responding with seven straight majors of their own.
Richmond ultimately clinched a 19.9 (123) to 12.12 (84) victory, their seventh win of the season.
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