Brisbane veteran Dayne Zorko believes the contentious umpiring decision to call advantage deep in the last quarter of the grand final was ‘a bit tough’, saying there was ‘no way’ teammate Zac Bailey could have heard the original whistle.
The Lions were awarded a free kick just outside 50 when Lachie Neale was tripped up by Collingwood’s Oleg Markov, only for the umpire to call play on when Bailey quickly kicked forward under heavy pressure, unaware that the free had been paid.
The Magpies were able to repel and hold on for a four-point win, but speaking on SEN Q, Zorko described the call as ‘extraordinary’.
“I was in good line with the umpire, and I mean, it was extraordinary given that they hadn’t paid an advantage all day,” he said.
“I thought it was a bit tough… I heard that there’s been a few headlines around Zac knowing that it was [a free kick] and that he shouldn’t have taken the advantage – he had no idea.
“I mean, he was getting wrangled around the neck at the time that his foot hit the ball.
“It [the crowd noise] was so loud and deafening. It was only the fact that I’d seen the umpire visually pay the free kick and blow the whistle that I knew it was a free kick. But it was so loud, there’s no way he could have heard it as a player.
“It was just phenomenal, but it is what it is.”
Zorko’s reaction comes amid furore from the footy world over the non-decision, with former teammate Tom Rockliff taking to X to proclaim the Lions were ‘robbed’.
Speaking on SEN’s Whateley, prominent AFL commentator Gerard Whateley agreed, labelling the decision ‘flat out wrong’.
“There has to be an intent to claim advantage and Bailey had no such intent. He scrambled a kick with no knowledge the whistle had been blown,” Whateley said.
“The umpire’s duty was to recall the ball and let Neale take the free kick, which he had earned.
“We’ll never know what might have happened.”
Following Bailey’s kick, a Darcy Moore spoil saw the ball spill to Nick Daicos, who quickly passed to Will Hoskin-Elliott to regain possession for Collingwood.
The Lions would never threaten to score again, with Tom Mitchell winning a free kick for high contact shortly after and ensuring the Pies would run out the clock.
The Lions were also made to rue conceding goals after the quarter time and half time sirens to the Magpies, the former to Jordan De Goey and the latter to Jack Crisp, that likewise proved crucial in deciding the result.