Angus Brayshaw was left stunned after contact with Shaun Burgoyne.
Angus Brayshaw was left stunned after contact with Shaun Burgoyne.

Legend blows up over ‘absolute disgrace’

ON Friday night it was the decision that left football fans across the entire nation scratching their heads.

Melbourne midfielder Angus Brayshaw, on hands and knees, reached for the ball when Hawthorn's Shaun Burgoyne ran in and collected his head with his legs.

The force snapped Brayshaw's head back and it looked like Brayshaw had collected another concussion in the AFL.

But shortly after the contact the umpire blew his whistle and awarded a free kick to Burgoyne for contact below the knees.

It prompted searing criticism from former Richmond great Matthew Richardson.

"It's not in the spirit of the game," Richardson said.

The questionable call, which led to a Hawthorn goal, was followed by an almost identical situation soon after which saw Jordan Lewis cough up a free kick.

Isaac Smith gets in Jordan Lewis’ face. Picture: Michael Klein
Isaac Smith gets in Jordan Lewis’ face. Picture: Michael Klein

"They've gone berserk on this rule, they've gone berserk," cried Seven commentator Brian Taylor.

On Monday night the questionable free kicks were once again highlighted and North Melbourne legend Wayne Carey was scathing over the interpretation of the rulings.

"These two decisions were absolutely disgraceful, this could have cost Melbourne the game,"  Carey said.

"Hawthorn are coming here and that Brayshaw one, he is going for the footy. Same with Jordan Lewis, he's going for the footy and already on his knees.

"What players are becoming, and Jack Gunston is a perfect example of it, they're becoming very smart. They know now when the players there and over the footy, they run in and make the player hit them with contact below the knees.

"This rule came in for players sliding on the ground with their knees into the lower leg, they're not interpreting it. If a player's head hits below the knees and they're not sliding in, they're just going for the footy, if that's a free kick; if they don't change this rule now or interpret it differently."

Former Western Bulldogs star Luke Darcy agreed with Carey and believes the rule change was a huge "over-reaction".

"I think it was the biggest over-reaction rule change. It was for one incident that we saw for Gary Rohan," Darcy said.

'It's been the worst rule change we've had in a number of years."

Thankfully the two contentious free kicks didn't affect the result of the game as Melbourne went on to record a 33-point victory over Hawthorn and book their spot in the preliminary finals.

But as the AFL continues to talk about changes to the game being implemented in the seasons to come, getting the interpretation right of the rules already in place should be their first priority.