Essendon and Carlton players react on the final siren during round six, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

ADELAIDE coach Matthew Nicks has refused to weigh in on a controversial late non-call that sealed the Crows' three-point loss to Essendon on Friday night, instead pointing to a whole host of missed opportunities on the field.

Nicks wouldn’t be drawn when asked about an umpiring decision to not pay a holding-the-ball free kick against Essendon's Sam Draper in Adelaide's forward 50 during the dying seconds of the game.

"I'm not going to make a comment around umpiring, that would just add to the night," he said post-game.


"There were a number of different opportunities that – I don’t know how many times we went in [inside 50] in a row -  but we found our aggression and our assertiveness, and where had that been for the night? That was another disappointing part.

"Where has that been?"

Essendon skipper Zach Merrett conceded the decision not to pay a free kick for holding the ball against Draper was "a line-ball call".

CROWS v BOMBERS Full match coverage and stats

"I'll be honest, I was holding my breath a little bit that last few seconds," Merrett said.

"We've certainly spent a lot of time and work and energy on those moments. To execute it for the most part was very pleasing.

"But no doubt it was a line-ball call."

Bombers coach Brad Scott said there were plenty of tight calls throughout the game, not just in the final seconds.

"There were a lot of decisions on holding the ball for and against throughout the night," he said. "We will obviously focus on the one in the last couple of seconds. But I can show you a couple of others too if you like."


As he played down the late controversy, Nicks instead lamented his side's slow start and lacklustre inside-50 count.

"We lost the contest, we missed tackles, it was just a lot of areas that weren't working," he said.

"Our backs were to the wall and we hung in and hung in, but we expect so much more than that of where we're at at the moment.


"We would still be disappointed about the way we played the game tonight even if it went our way.

"We took a step back tonight. We felt like the last two weeks we took a couple of big steps forward against Melbourne and against Carlton, and we felt like we were in a good space. But tonight unfortunately was a step backwards.

"That’s the bigger issue for us – we want to hold that momentum of form. We want to play a game that we walk off and be proud of. I think tonight we'll be disappointed in what we put out there."

Essendon coach Brad Scott said the win gave his side confidence heading into next week's Anzac Day clash against reigning premier Collingwood.


"Belief is something you build one step at a time, and we've taken another step tonight," he said.

"Anzac Day is an unbelievable privilege. It's a unique game. 

"It's a huge occasion as a club, we're privileged to be able to put ourselves in a finals-like atmosphere in round seven against the reigning premier. So what an opportunity."