AFL 'in 'disarray' as Essendon dudded by 'diabolical' call in loss to Gold Coast Suns

Fans and commentators are growing increasingly frustrated with the rules and how they're implimented.

AFL fans and commentators have officially had enough. The much-maligned time-wasting rule reared its ugly head again on Sunday night and burned the Bombers late in their loss to the Suns.

With Gold Coast up by just five points deep the fourth quarter, Essendon player Jayden Laverde was pinged for a 50m penalty that gifted the Suns the match-sealing goal. After Jye Caldwell was done for holding the ball, Laverde picked it up and tossed it innocently to Brayden Fiorini.

The only problem was it was Touk Miller who'd been awarded the free kick, not Fiorini. Laverde turned around and saw two Suns players standing in front of him, and not knowing who won the free kick, he threw it to Fiorini.

Jayden Laverde, Brayden Fiorini and Touk Miller.
Jayden Laverde (L) threw the ball to Brayden Fiorini instead of Touk Miller. Image: Fox Footy/Getty

Because it was Miller who was meant to receive the ball it was deemed time-wasting by Laverde and Miller was given a 50m penalty and set shot from right in front. The goal put the Suns up by 11 and killed off any hope the Bombers had of snatching victory at the death.

Dwayne Russell said on Fox Footy: “I hate to say it but the little things become big things in the grey areas of our game. Sometimes they’re inconsequential until they end up in a goal.”

Jayden Laverde, Brayden Fiorini and Touk Miller.
Jayden Laverde (L) was supposed to return the ball to Touk Miller (centre) but gave it to Brayden Fiorini (R) instead. Image: Fox Footy

Essendon coach Brad Scott said after the game: “I think Jayden just threw it to the player he thought whose free kick it was. But again, umpiring is really hard because people say use common sense, but they also want the umpires to umpire to the letter of the law, so I don’t get too concerned about that (decision).”

But he conceded: “I didn’t think the umpiring had any bearing on the game tonight. Whichever team prevailed deserved to win. I thought this round they (the umpires) had a really big challenge in that there were some changes (to interpretations) and I think they umpires are in an incredibly difficult position. They’re doing a good job.”


Nevertheless the brutal call left fans and commentators fuming. While the umpire was technically correct, many took exception to the rule itself and its implementation. Former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas wrote on social media: “Disgraceful decision to Essendon. The game is in utter disarray.”

Journalist Christian Montegan wrote: “Once again common sense fails to prevail when it comes to umpiring in the AFL. Laverde clearly didn’t know who was supposed to have the ball. Why would Essendon time waste being a goal down? Pathetic.”

One fan watching the game commented: “I love Essendon slander as much as the next guy. But that 50m penalty against Laverde is absolutely diabolical, just sucked all the life out of the game.”

Another added: “It's wrong. Miller walking away from with his back to Laverde.? Laverde turns around and sees two other Suns players and knows the player tackling him is not getting the free. That leaves the player closest to the man on the mark. AFL what happened to common sense rule again?”

The fresh controversy comes after Collingwood player Lachie Sullivan gave away a 50m penalty for handing the ball to teammate Nick Daicos instead of umpire Matthew Nicholls in their loss to Fremantle last week. It sparked a run of four-straight goals that saw the Dockers overcome the Magpies to win.