Carlton coach David Teague says he and his players are still confused about the new holding-the-ball interpretation after a series of baffling decisions during Sunday’s 22-point loss to West Coast in Perth.
The Blues led by 19 points early in the third quarter, but West Coast went on a scoring blitz to secure the 11.6 (72) to 7.8 (50) win in front of 19,092 fans.
The most controversial moment of the match came in the second quarter when Carlton defender Sam Petrevski-Seton got pinged for holding the ball.
Petrevski-Seton was powerless to get a disposal away after having his arms pinned in a bear-hug tackle from Jack Darling as soon as he got the ball.
The 22-year-old expressed his disbelief when the free kick was paid, with the subsequent 50m penalty gifting the Eagles a lucky goal.
There were a number of other decisions – or non decisions – during the game that also left fans scratching their head.
“Our players are seeking a fair bit of clarity around it at the moment,” Teague said.
“It’s a hard one. Any time you change an interpretation through the season, it’s quite hard – as much for the umpires – to adjudicate.
“Whether the umpires felt that was right or wrong that call, I don’t know because they’re going to make mistakes as well.
“So it’s hard for us as coaches and players to understand which one was an error and which one wasn’t to get a pattern going forward.”
Teague says he will continue to implore his players to win the ball, despite the risk of being pinged for holding the ball.
West Coast set up the win with a four-goal blitz inside the final four minutes of the third quarter.
Eagles midfielder Dom Sheed was best afield with 26 disposals, nine clearances and two goals, while Nic Naitanui (41 hitouts, seven clearances) was a dominant force in the ruck.
The Blues lost Jack Martin to a calf injury in the second quarter, while ruckman Marc Pittonet spent about 30 minutes off the field with a finger injury.
Fisher finished with 4.0 from 12 disposals in a career-best display, while star midfielder Patrick Cripps tallied 19 disposals and eight clearances despite spending long stints up forward.
West Coast’s sixth straight win improved their season record to 7-3, while Carlton (4-6) now face an uphill battle to make the top eight.
The Eagles have come from behind against Collingwood, Geelong and now Carlton in recent weeks, and coach Adam Simpson said his team is still searching for consistent four-quarter displays.
“It shows good resilience that we can come back,” Simpson said.
“We’ll take this game and cherish it, it’s a win. We’ve won a few games on the trot
“We walk away really happy … but we need to get better.”