St Kilda coach Brett Ratten has expressed his frustration at a lack of holding-the-ball free kicks, cheekily suggesting the Saints might as well give up on tackling.
The Saints earned just three free kicks for laying 86 tackles in their 21-point defeat against Geelong on Friday night.
Players from both teams were not penalised for throws and incorrect disposal during the Round 9 clash at Marvel Stadium.
Just two examples were Geelong captain Joel Selwood and teammate Tom Atkins dishing out blatant two-handed throws and play-on was called.
The usually reserved Ratten was left confused by the interpretation.
“To think you have (86) tackles – I thought we out-tackled them – and you get three free kicks,” Ratten said.
“Don’t know if it’s worth tackling, just set up behind the ball and flood back.
“I don’t think we got our reward for our effort in the tackling component of the game.
“That was slightly disappointing but the players’ effort in what they did was very good.
“I feel for the players, to have (86) and get three holding-the-ball, it would be interesting to see how some of those balls got distributed as well.”
Pressed further if he was upset by Geelong players seeming to drop or throw the ball at times, Ratten replied: “You said it, I didn’t.”
Frustration among coaches about the ruling is not new, with Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson hitting out after the Hawks’ win against North Melbourne last June.
“What’s happened to our game? You can’t have that many tackles and not one of them be incorrect disposal,” Clarkson said.
The four-time premiership coach’s comments brought about an immediate change, with a stricter interpretation enforced by the AFL for the rest of the 2020 season.