Toby McLean was penalised for contact below the knees in the opening contest of Thursday night’s game. Picture: Sarah Reed
Toby McLean was penalised for contact below the knees in the opening contest of Thursday night’s game. Picture: Sarah Reed

Dogs to seek AFL answers over bizarre umpiring

THE Western Bulldogs are expected to seek clarification from the AFL umpiring department after some bizarre decisions were paid against them during their loss to Port Adelaide.

While the Dogs won the free-kick count 26-23, two whistles that went against them in the first half are likely to be questioned in writing this week.

Star midfielder Toby McLean was penalised for making illegal contact below the knees at the opening centre bounce and then Charlie Dixon received a free kick in front of goal after engaging Jackson Trengove in a marking contest.

Port Adelaide spearhead Dixon booted his third goal after the half-time siren at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night to stifle the Dogs' mini fightback.

Richmond legend Kevin Bartlett on Saturday laughed at the Dixon decision.

The AFL is trialling four field umpires in Rounds 13 and 14 (12 matches) and the same umpires from Thursday night will officiate Sunday's Geelong-Richmond blockbuster at the MCG.

They are Nick Foot, Brett Rosebury, Simon Meredith and Jacob Mollison.

 

The AFL is trialling four field umpires in Rounds 13 and 14. Picture: Michael Klein
The AFL is trialling four field umpires in Rounds 13 and 14. Picture: Michael Klein

While the Dogs do not believe the umpiring shaped their 57-point loss, they want clarity so they can better coach their players.

It is not unusual for clubs to contact the AFL. Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson went through vision of umpiring decisions over a coffee with league boss Gillon McLachlan after Round 8.

The four-umpire trial has seen a slight increase in free kicks.

Asked about the trial, Dogs coach Luke Beveridge said: "What did you think?

"I've never been one to complain about what's transpired out there, but … on a night like tonight when there's some experiment there, it can't get in the way of making sure the best decisions are made.

"The AFL will assess how they went. Yeah, I can't say too much."

Tom Rockliff fights his way to the ball ahead of Bulldog Mitch Wallis. Picture SARAH REED
Tom Rockliff fights his way to the ball ahead of Bulldog Mitch Wallis. Picture SARAH REED

While only a small sample size, the fourth official - whether coincidentally or consequentially - has seen the whistle blown more often.

There were 49 frees paid in the Port-Dogs game, 54 given in Sydney's win over West Coast and 37 whistles in Fremantle's win against Carlton.

The average before Round 13 was 42.

Kane Cornes tweeted: "Four umpires … nope."

As part of the trial, two umpires are set in the middle of the field, with one stationed in each 50m arc.

It's a formula AFL football boss Steve Hocking confirmed was under consideration from 2019 onwards.

The league told clubs, among other things, that the trial would provide insights as to whether the "the longevity of umpires" could be enhanced.

But the AFL is also holding secret trials with players in set starting positions at stoppages - something that would need an extra field umpire to police.

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