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

THE AFL has admitted an umpire made a mistake in not giving Adelaide a free kick after Essendon ruckman Sam Draper dived on the ball in the dying seconds of Friday night's thriller.

The Bombers left the Adelaide Oval with a 4-2 record after hanging on for a decisive three-point win over the Crows, who have slumped to 1-5.

Draper dived on the ball inside Adelaide's forward 50 and was tackled by Crows players.

Umpires refused to pay a free kick against Draper, who had the ball locked on the ground, before the siren sounded.


"In the moment and at ground level the umpires believed that Draper dived on the ball, and then the ball came out to Draper’s left, and was then knocked back under him by (Taylor) Walker," an AFL spokesperson said on Saturday.

"In review, and with the assistance of the broadcast angle and behind the goals Hawkeye vision providing a clearer look, you can see that the ball moves from under Draper's chest - to under his armpit/shoulder – which means the ball is still in his possession, and he has not immediately knocked it clear.

"Therefore, it technically should have been a Holding the Ball free kick."


The AFL did concede it was a tough decision for the umpires given nearly every player on the ground was parked inside Adelaide's forward 50.

"It’s a very challenging one for the umpires in this situation, with the ball on the ground, to see exactly where the ball is, under a large number of players and who has control of it," the spokesperson said.

"On ground level they were not certain of all these factors, so they didn’t pay it -  which is the correct approach at the time."

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks refused to comment on the decision when asked about it post-game.

The Crows have now missed out on crucial late umpiring calls twice in their last four games at the Adelaide Oval.

In round 23 last season, Ben Keays thought he had put the Crows in front of Sydney with a minute left, but the umpire deemed the shot hit the post.

Replays revealed the ball never hit the post and Keays should have been awarded a goal.