Since it first opened its gate in 1871, virtually all of the globe's greatest cricketers have marked centre at the Adelaide Oval intending to post a big total on the ground's famous scoreboard.

However, across the course of this century-and-a-half stretch, few have played a straighter bat at the venue than Crows head coach Matthew Nicks after the fifth-year steward refused to weigh in on officiating in the wake of yet another grating defeat.

Less than a week after his charges flew into Melbourne under fire before flying out with the four points following a gritty win over Carlton at Marvel Stadium, Nicks' murder fell late to a fast-starting Bombers side keen to add to their autumnal joy.

Yet, despite the Dons' ability to hit the board on the hill early, before holding out a wet-sailed Crows comeback, much of the post-game discourse had refocused on a contentious piece of umpiring.

With the ball buried deep in Essendon's defence, a winning three-point lead to their name, and mere seconds remaining on the clock, ruckman Sam Draper was seen to dive onto a loose ball before being wrapped in a tackle by a pair of Crows.

However, no call was made, with the officiating umpire opting not to penalise the South Australian big man, leaving Crows veteran Taylor Walker to irrately offer his two-cents after the final siren.

Opinions were offered thick and fast on both the Seven and Fox Footy broadcast of the contest, with quadruple premiership Hawk Luke Hodge claiming the men in yellow had made a costly mistake.

“Looks to me like he fell on it then hooked it back in,” Garry Lyon offered on Fox's coverage. Footy post-match.

“That's a brain fade," Nathan Buckley added, "technically in any part of the field of any part of the game holding the ball.”

Still, Nicks would not join in the chorus, stating that any shot from his hip would only compound the pain felt on the night.

"I'm not going to make a comment around umpiring. That'll just add to the night," he stated cooly in his post-game press conference.

Any umbrage taken, however, would have been vindicated, with an AFL spokesperson confirming on Saturday morning that, technically, the Crows had been shafted.

"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 Walker," the statement read.

"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 Drapers 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.

"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. 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."

While on the winning side of the non-call, Nicks' counterpart, Essendon coach Brad Scott, contended that his side had got what they deserved after starting well.

"It's good reward for effort," Scott said.

"We obviously had a really poor two quarters here two weeks ago, probably two and a half quarters (against Port Adelaide).

"But outside of that, the effort and intent [has] been pretty good for the year and we sit now four and two."

The 1-5 Crows will now turn their focus to their next date with North Melbourne, while Essendon will gear itself for Anzac Day at the MCG.


  1. Unfortunately – the umpiring was rather “consistent”.

    The Draper “decision” was not a lone hand….. it was, unfortunately, to be expected halfway through the first quarter.

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