I’ll get in trouble’: Eagles coach tight-lipped as AFL greats give verdict on free kick controversy…

Adam Simpson has refused to comment on the controversial dying stages free kick against Eagle Elliot Yeo that left the coach visibly stunned in the box in the thrilling loss to North Melbourne on Saturday.

The Eagles staged a remarkable comeback at Optus Stadium, kicking six final quarter goals to hit the lead with minutes to play.

However, when Yeo collided forcefully with North Melbourne’s George Wardlaw, the Eagles veteran was penalized for holding the ball. Jy Simpkin’s subsequent goal dashed West Coast’s comeback efforts, allowing the Roos to secure a 10-point victory.

“I can’t, nup. I can’t comment. But yeah. Can’t comment,” Simpson said when asked for his thoughts on the free kick post-match.

“I don’t know what to say to Elliot – don’t win the ball like that? I don’t know. Probably the wrong time to ask me.

“I get why we’ve made the tweak (to the holding the ball free kick), but seems like it’s going to take a bit of time to get right.

“I’m not talking about the free kick anymore because I’ll get in trouble.”

Fox Footy’s Ben Dixon and Brad Johnson did not believe Yeo should have been penalised for diving on the ball.

“He certainly didn’t dive on the ball – he picked the ball up and got to his knees,” Dixon said.

“Diving on the ball is you’re actually hatching it. You jump on. He hasn’t jumped on it.”

“He’s got no prior,” Brad Johnson added.

He’s done the right thing – laid the tackle. Ball spills out, picks it up, tries to get to his feet to feed off and then is tackled immediately. That’s not holding the ball.”


Simpson lamented his side’s poor opening half where they failed to win a centre clearance and managed just two goals to the main break.

“When we got it right, we looked good,” he said.

“They were too good for us today over four quarters … Overall we’re left disappointed.

“We need to dig a little bit deeper about why we can’t play that brand all the time (after the fourth quarter fightback).

Two weeks in a row we’ve been in winning positions … we just couldn’t get over the line. We’ll learn from these games.”

Simpson said he expects the holding the ball interpretation to “settle” after the AFL’s mid-season rule tweak.

“It’s pretty hard to ask me after what happened tonight,” he said.

“The players usually adapt, but it’s challenging to do so on the spot.”

During the live commentary on Fox Footy, Gerard Healy strongly disagreed with the free kick decision.

“Is it a free kick?” commentator Will Schofield inquired.

“Not in my book,” Healy responded. “Something seems off if that is considered a free kick.

“(Yeo) worked extremely hard to get that from the opposing player, and it ended up like this.”

“He’s basically got up on his knees and he’s been pinged with no prior opportunity.

“That is going to have a fair bit of airplay over the next 48 hours.”

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson said he was proud of his side’s ability to withstand West Coast’s fightback, and was glad the Yeo free kick went his side’s way.

“I actually haven’t seen it. You just hear the whistle blow and hope he points his arm in the direction of your side winning the free kick,” he admitted.

This is the hard thing for the umps – they are making hundreds of decision a game, not just the ones the actually blow the whistle.

“When it’s a close game, you can understand the fans would be upset.

“Without being arrogant about it, I thought the better side won on the day.

We’d have been really stiff to lose that game given the effort we’d put in to get ourselves in a winning position.”

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