Lachie Sullivan after the drawn match between Walyalup (Fremantle) and Collingwood at Optus Stadium in round 11, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

COLLINGWOOD coach Craig McRae will await an AFL explanation for a contentious free kick late in Friday night's thrilling draw against Walyalup, which saw young Magpie Lachie Sullivan penalised for not returning the ball to an umpire. 

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Dockers ruckman Sean Darcy was awarded a free kick close to goal during the frantic final minutes at Optus Stadium after a ball-up was called and Sullivan tossed the ball to teammate Nick Daicos instead of returning it to umpire Mathew Nicholls. 


While there is an AFL rule that states a free kick can be paid if a player fails to follow the instructions of an umpire, McRae said he was confused at the time by the decision as the Dockers piled on four late unanswered goals to snatch an improbable draw after being 25 points down deep in the fourth quarter. 

"I'm looking forward to what the AFL tell us about that, because I wasn't aware that's a free kick," McRae said after the Magpies' second draw this season following the Anzac Day tie against Essendon. 

"But maybe clearly it is, because they don't pay things that aren't there. So yeah, looking forward to seeing what they say. 

"At that moment, I was confused because I was told that he (Daicos) touched the umpire … but again, I was unaware of what actually happened until afterwards.

"It'll be what it will be. It doesn’t help us, does it?"


Walyalup coach Justin Longmuir said he had assumed at the time that the ball was not returned to the umpire, highlighting that the rule exists to prevent time wasting. 

McRae was left proud of his team for getting into a winning position initially with six Magpies playing with less than 10 games experience, including debutants Ed Allan and former cricketer Wil Parker. 

Ruck/forward Mason Cox suffered concussion and will have a leg injury assessed, while key forward Brody Mihocek is dealing with a recurrence of the hamstring issue he returned from, making the road performance even gutsier.

"There's a lot to take in, but right now I've just got this enormous pride in our effort," McRae said. 

"Collingwood supporters would be extremely proud of the effort from our players, and we've got some young players playing their first game and six under 10 games. They just didn't look out of sorts. 

"Mason got concussed and Brody Mihocek might have done his hamstring again, so in the last quarter we don't have any key forwards. We were fighting and scrapping, and I'm really proud of that. 

"We'd like to walk away with a couple more points, but it’s not through a lack of effort."


Longmuir was equally proud of his players but said he felt like the Dockers had "stolen" two points, given they were in a seemingly unwinnable position so deep in the game. 

"We could have found it too hard, but the players found something, which I'm really proud about," the coach said. 

"We could have snatched it at the end, but the way the game was getting played in that second half we probably stole two points.

"It was a mixed bag though. Some areas of our game are going well, but there's inconsistency within games and we need to iron that out."


Following his return of 2.5 last week, key forward Jye Amiss' goalkicking issues were in the spotlight as he sprayed early chances and finished with just four disposals and 0.1. 

Longmuir said he would speak with the young star, who booted 41 goals last year, and advise him to "do the reps" to get his form back.  

"That's all you can do. I don't think a lot has changed in his routine, he just needs to keep leaning in on his routine and get to work and practice," the coach said. 

"He definitely is not getting left on his own. 'JG' (forwards coach Jaymie Graham) is working with him, I'll have a chat with him. Sometimes you can have too many voices in situations like this. 

"Everyone will want to help Jye and everyone will have some feedback for Jye, but he's proven to be a good goalkicker and a reliable set shot over a lot of years, including in under age footy."