Geelong’s Josh Hunt lived every defender’s worst nightmare on Friday night when he committed a foolish error that cost his team the match.
The AFL Grand Final rematch was a scrappy affair, but Geelong dominated the final term and the game looked to be set for a classic finish.
It was, but not in the way most had envisioned.
With just over a minute left on the clock, Collingwood forward Alex Fasolo took a mark just forward of the wing, about 70 metres from goal. He looked as if he was going to handpass to a free Scott Pendlebury when Josh Hunt wrapped his arms around him.
The mistake proved to be fatal for the Cats. The umpire had not signalled play on and, despite Fasolo’s intentions, Hunt had made the wrong call.
A 50m penalty was awarded and Fasolo kicked the goal to make a Geelong win impossible. Scott Pendlebury goaled almost immediately after and the game was done and dusted.
In an interview after the game, Fasolo explained the situation as it happened.
“When I marked it I was going to give it to Pendles and then I thought, hang on a second, we want to slow this game down.
“Then Josh Hunt grabbed me and I milked it for all it was worth. I went back and I was a bit nervous but I slotted it. I couldn’t be happier.”
Despite this, Fasolo said that umpire Matt Stevic made the right decision and that the infringement was there.
Geelong coach Chris Scott seemed to begrudgingly agree, stating “I’ll have to have a good look at it, but my instincts were that it was a free kick.
“The rule’s pretty clear. If a player plays on but the umpire hasn’t called play-on, it’s not play-on. Simple.”
Hunt was stuck between a rock and a hard place. If he hadn’t gone for Fasolo and play on was called, Pendlebury would have had space and easy access to the Collingwood forward-line.
But he did and we saw the result.
It’s a tough situation and not one any player would want to be in. But by not adhering to the rules, Hunt is stuck with a blemish that will be hard to live down.