North Melbourne have won a second game in a row under Alastair Clarkson after surviving a controversial final in a thriller against Fremantle in Perth.
The Kangaroos looked good at home before Fremantle netted three goals in the space of four minutes to secure a breathtaking final seconds.
As the seconds dwindled, Fremantle had one final entry inside the front 50 when Luke Ryan received a free kick for deliberate out of bounds.
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Ryan sent a long kick deep into Fremantle’s front 50 before Daniel Howe swooped in on a disputed ball inside the goal square and swiped it towards the boundary line.
The ball dribbled towards the boundary, reaching the line barely a second after the siren sounded as the Fremantle players protested for a deliberate out-of-bounds call to be paid.
After a short conference, the umpires deemed the siren sounded before the ball left the field of play, nullifying the deliberate out-of-bounds call and preserving the one-point win for North Melbourne.
The decision was made despite the referees deciding they would pay Fremantle a deliberate out-of-bounds free-kick shortly after Howe kicked the ball towards the boundary.
Replays on Fox Footy showed one of the four field referees shouting “pay it” (the deliberate free kick out of bounds, shortly after the ball left Howe’s boot).
“It’s been called deliberate so it’s all on time, it’s not about the referee’s ruling and interpretation,” Hawthorn great Dermott Brereton said on Fox Footy.
Cameron Mooney added: “The decision has to be deliberate, it’s just (a matter of) whether the referee had a chance to make the decision. It’s going to be debated.”
It was another standout result for the Clarkson era, with the Kangaroos already incredibly matching last season’s win tally.
Last year’s No. 3 choice Harry Sheezel continued his superb start to his AFL career, finishing with 30 eliminations and 563 yards gained, while star midfielder Luke Davies-Uniacke added 30 eliminations and a goal.
The Kangaroos are hoping to make it three in a row when they face Clarkson’s former side Hawthorn in Tasmania in the third round.
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