RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick has questioned the umpires' reasoning behind not paying his side a 50-metre penalty in the final stages of their narrow loss to Sydney.
The Tigers trailed by six points on Friday night when Dion Prestia was awarded a free kick 65m from goal as the final siren sounded, a split second after the whistle had blown.
Swans midfielder Chad Warner gathered the ball as soon as the siren went and booted it into the crowd, which might have resulted in a 50-metre penalty to Prestia, who had not yet taken his free kick.
The umpires decided Warner had not heard the whistle amid the chaos and Prestia's shot from long-range ultimately fell well short of the goal that would have levelled the scores.
"He couldn't have heard, common sense, OK?" officiating umpire John Howarth told a Richmond player at the time.
Hardwick played a straight bat in his post-match media conference, refusing to blame the umpires' call for the Tigers' loss after they threw away a big lead.
But the Tigers' three-time premiership coach took to social media on Saturday morning with a post that read: "Common sense. Sorry, what?"
On Saturday, the AFL stood by the umpires' decision.
"The AFL confirms the decision late in last night’s match to not pay a 50m penalty was correct," the league said in a statement.
"The free kick to Richmond player Prestia was correctly paid (by the non controlling umpire in the centre of the ground) and almost immediately after the free kick was paid, the siren sounded.
"The umpires then made the correct call in not applying a 50m penalty against Swans player Warner, given the immediacy of the free being paid, the siren sounding and the ball being kicked into the crowd.
"It is the same discretion often used around the ground when umpires don’t believe a player has heard the whistle and kicks the ball."
After the match, Hardwick was quick to highlight the big lead the Tigers coughed up rather than the late incident.
"It's irrelevant. You can look at that last incident, but the fact of the matter is we were up by 30 (33) points, it's easy to look at the last game, but we should have iced the game," Hardwick said.
"Seventy-five per cent of the time I thought we were pretty good, 25 per cent lapse – especially in the third quarter – there were some things we thought we could have done a bit better.
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"Everyone will always look at the last play and the what-ifs, but the fact of the matter is, if you're 33 points up, you shouldn't lose."
Hardwick bemoaned Richmond's ill-discipline in the closely fought match.
"Mills, their seventh, probably generated a little bit of income for them, and we probably didn't use the ball as well as we would have liked in that situation. And that's on us as coaches to prepare the players a little bit better in that situation," Hardwick said.
"Last quarter, we rectified it and had our chances, and we kicked 2.6 or something like that (3.6) to their six straight. There's the game.
"It would be remiss of me to say we'll give up five free-kick goals again, two from 50m penalties and a few downfield. We just kill ourselves at various stages and we expect better. It's disappointing to lose a game like this through ill-discipline."
Sydney coach John Longmire said his side's stunning turnaround came on the back of tidying up the basics.
"We started winning some of those contests. Sometimes it can be all different things you look at, and we just didn't half or win enough of those contests compared to Richmond in the first half, and there were some moments we had to be a bit better and break even," Longmire said.
"We gave away free kicks off the ball and things we need to get better at, and fortunately the players got that sorted at half time and we were very good in the second half."
Lance Franklin was the star of the show, booting five and taking home the Goodes-O'Loughlin Medal for best afield, but was also involved in a tussle with Trent Cotchin.
"He did some pretty special things. At big moments, he was able to put his hand up and do some things that only very few players can do," Longmire said.
"He was 1v2 and a couple of times he was able to break even those contests and he was able to hit the scoreboard with accurate kicking, he played well.
"Just disappointed it was a free kick away, it was the second one we'd done. We'd had a couple of chances to go forward and have a shot at goal, twice, and that was our second one, so that was what I was disappointed about."