The AFL has acknowledged Swans AFLW player Molly Eastman should’ve been awarded a goal, rather than a behind, during a crucial stage of Sydney’s narrow loss to Essendon on Saturday.
Sitting on the bottom of the ladder, the Swans came mightily close to claiming their inaugural AFLW win, booting their highest score – 7.2 (44) – but ultimately falling four points short of a fast-finishing Bombers outfit.
But the Swans can officially consider themselves unlucky after the AFL conceded a third-quarter behind given after an Eastman kick should’ve been a goal, as first reported by CODE Sports.
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After Eastman was awarded a free kick for a push in the back just outside the 50m arc, she was advanced closer to goal due to a 50m penalty given away by the Bombers.
The defender’s set-shot kick, which only just made the distance, appeared to sail through for a goal. It prompted a big celebration from Eastman as it not only would’ve given the Swans the lead back late in the third term, but also been her first AFLW goal.
The field umpire was also seen putting up two hands towards the goal umpire to indicate the goal was ‘all clear’.
But Eastman, Swans teammates and Fox Footy commentators were left flabbergasted when the goal umpire signalled a behind. Eastman was then seen having words with the field umpire.
Fans suggested the fact Essendon defender Danielle Marshall collided with the goalpost while attmpting to get a hand to the ball may have affected the goal umpire’s decision.
Instead of the Swans taking a two-point lead, they still trailed by three points – and they wouldn’t regain the scoreboard advantage for the rest of the game.
Swans AFLW boss Kate Mahoney confirmed the club had reached out about the incident to the AFL, which “acknowledged the mistake via email”.
“The players were shattered after the match and whilst we will never know what the outcome if the goal had been awarded it’s disappointing to have to wear a decision like that in an elite football match,” Mahoney told CODE Sports.
“All season we have looked forward and this week is no different.”
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An AFL spokesperson also confirmed the mistake and thanked the Swans for their understanding.
“In this particular instance, a goal should have been signalled. Overall, the umpires did a terrific job officiating across Round Eight,” the spokesperson told CODE Sports.
The score review system isn’t used in the AFLW competition, meaning goal and field umpires work collaboratively and back their on-field decisions.
The AFL said it would continue to investigate the possibility of using the ARC for AFLW matches but indicated it didn’t yet have “the infrastructure to have score review across all venues”.
The Swans, one of four expansion teams in the first season of an 18-club AFLW competition, have two more opportunities this year to record their first win. They host Fremantle at Henson Park this weekend before travelling to GMHBA Stadium to face a red-hot Geelong outfit in the final home and away round.